Monday, December 30, 2013

Highlights from 2013 & Welcome Winter Breakers!

I can't believe 2013 is almost over.  What a year it has been!  I praise God for how He has walked with me throughout the year.

The Highlights from 2013:
January - getting to recruit at Trinity International Univ and visit intern Ronnie at NIU
February - getting to celebrate my mom's 60th and my bro's 40th birthdays!
March - getting to mentor two awesome young ladies - Holly and Katie K
April - going on a massive roadtrip to visit colleges and supporters with Katie K
May - getting to see two past interns, Chelsea & Dustin, get married!!
June - getting to serve with new interns Wren and Anna
July - getting to mentor 4 awesome young ladies!
August - visiting NC friends
September - moving Mark to LA after a family beach vacation
October - getting ENGAGED!!
November - getting to meet more of Mark's family at Thanksgiving
December - the first intern of summer 2014 was officially accepted! Welcome Emily!!

We have several teams here for winter break weeks!  They come from as far west as Hawaii to all the way to the east coast! (Thanks Terah!)  Please pray for these teams as they continue to serve homeowners like Mr. Lionel, Mr. John, Brother Larry, and Mrs. Mary.  Please pray that God will use each volunteer to show His love to those in need and that each volunteer will experience God in a new way this week that will draw them closer to Him!

Happy New Year from Katie Hooks (and in 33 days it'll be Katie Manning!! yay!!)

EFC of Diamond Bar painting at Mr. Lionel's house today and connecting with his neighbor Ms Minnie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy 200th Blog Post!!

I signed into my blog today to discover that if I blog one more time I'll hit 200!! Wowzers! I can't believe it.  It's kind of interesting to look back over the years to see what God has done and what He's been teaching me in the process.  I'm definitely grateful for His patience and grace with me on this journey and I'm grateful for His provision and protection along the way!

Our 200th blog post comes with GREAT news!! Today, Mark & I signed a year lease on a home in New Orleans!! HALLELUJAH!! We had a window of 14 days (today being the 14th day) to monitor craig's lists, zillow, padmapper, & local rental agencies, to set up appointments at various places, to drive around different neighborhoods, to become aware of people who scam potential renters by claiming to be out of the area and unable to show them the property but if you send them $$ they'll send you the keys (how sad!), and to pray pray pray for God to show us where He wanted us to live.

I PRAISE GOD that He has helped us find a place to live and for your prayers that helped us on our search! I can't believe that in 45 days I get to marry Mr Mark Manning and we'll get to start our lives together under the same roof after our honeymoon! My reading today was in Psalm 136 which repeats over and over again that "His love endures forever!" Yes Thank you Lord that your love endures forever and ever! 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever. 
Psalm 136: 1,4,12,24 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Remembering what it's all about!

Today is my first day back in Louisiana after an amazing time up north visiting Mark's family.  I'm very thankful for the chance I had to meet more of Mark's family and I'm grateful for these next few weeks we have down south.  Mark's best man Joe arrived today with his wife and we're excited to have them here to serve alongside and share our lives with them.

Now that it's December I begin to feel the tug of end of year responsibilities.  Making sure to get out end-of-year newsletters, buying Christmas gifts, planning Christmas travels, and attending various Christmas gatherings, which are all good things but can start to distract me from what Christmas is all about.

One of my staff members pointed out that it's cool how Christmas falls at the end of the calendar year because the other thing we can think about in December is all the ways God has provided for us and protected us throughout the year.  So as we're thinking about all that God has done in the year 2013, we can also think about how He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin, without sin, fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, and be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 

How awesome is that! We get to take intentional time this month to celebrate our Savior's birth!  My prayer is the same of another staff member's this month, Babette. She said that she wants everything she does for Christmas to glorify and represent Christ.  So with every light strand hung outside her house, she wants it to represent Jesus who is the light of the world.  For every nativity scene displayed, it is to show just how our Savior humbled himself to be born in a manger and humbled himself even to death on a cross for you and me.

Let us not forget that our savior left his heavenly home to come to our world that he may identify with us.  In the words of Chris Rice song "welcome to our world," he wrapped our injured flesh around him, breathed our air, and walked our sod, robbed our sin and made us holy.  Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! Let's celebrate Him this season in all our December activities!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Harvest is Plentiful...

Because Thanksgiving is upon us, I'd love to share what ReachGlobal Crisis Response is thankful for...from my perspective :)

We are thankful to God for providing opportunities for us to show the love of Jesus to those in need and to share the good news of Jesus Christ to those in need!

These are the God-given opportunities here in the states:
1) New Orleans LA - yes 8.5 years later we continues to serve families impacted by Katrina
2) New Jersey and New York - we are receiving teams in both locations due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
3) Estes Park, Colorado - This is our newest domestic location for volunteer teams to serve in the wake of the flooding that occurred this past September

Internationally, we partner with ReachGlobal in Haiti to come alongside Haitians who have a vision for disciple-making and church planting within walking distance of every Haitian.  Volunteers are still serving in Haiti, GlobalFingerprints has started a child sponsorship program in Haiti, and there has been a consortium of churches gathered to further long term ministry in Haiti.

Most recently, God has opened up a door for us in the Philippines through the typhoon devestation.  I wanted to share this video link with you from Pastor Sam who speaks of his experience with the storm and the hope he has for the Gospel to spread in the wake of this crisis.

Pastor Sam's Interview from Philippines

We thank God that He has given us the vision that the "harvest is plentiful."  We see what He sees in Matthew 9:35-38 and we have hearts of compassion.
We thank you for joining with us as a worker in the mission field created in the wake of crisis.  The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.
We thank you for praying and asking the Lord of the harvest to raise up more workers and we pray that you'll be one of those workers in the future!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Katie :)

The Workers Are Few

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

(Click here if you'd like more info on how to become one of the workers we pray for!)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pray for the Filipino People!

ReachGlobal's crisis response team and Asia division partners are currently assessing the situation in the Philippines after an enormous typhoon -- one of the largest recorded storms in history -- ravaged the city of Taclaban. Officials are estimating death tolls to approach 10,000 over the next several days.

As of now, we know that money and prayers are needed. Tens of thousands of people are without food and covering, waiting for relief. The Christian response will be the heart, hands and feet of Jesus to the Filipino people.

Give now >> http://myef.ca/typhoon-haiyan


Click here to give now!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Be with Jesus!

I praise the Lord for showing me last week to keep my heart and mind on things above.  It kept me from only thinking about myself and the wedding and kept my thoughts on God and His purposes.  It allowed me to share life with the volunteers who came all the way from Northern Wisconsin.  Shout out to Ms. Jeri for bringing a team from her church!

The team was challenged to take their mission experience home with them.  They do not live in a city like New Orleans but they recognize that there are people around them who need the love of Christ expressed to them.  It just takes asking the Lord to provide opportunities to share Christ's love with those in need then being on the lookout for them.

My challenge to them was found in Acts 4:13 where the Jewish leaders realized that Peter and John spoke with courage yet they were unschooled, ordinary men who had BEEN WITH JESUS! Being with Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, gives us courage to live boldly for Him!  Our courage doesn't come from graduating seminary, or how many years we've been a believer, or how many mission trips we've been on...being with Jesus changes everything and gives us courage to live radically for Him anywhere we are.

So my focus this week is simple: BE WITH JESUS! I want to be in His Word daily, praying continuously, listening for the Spirit's leading and obeying, and singing praise songs to Him.   Being with Jesus will change me and give me courage to live boldly for Him.  Being with Jesus will make me more like Him who continuously put others before Himself and kept his heart and mind on things above.

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Monday, October 14, 2013

Did you catch that?

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

The scripture above was my reading this morning and of course the Lord, in His loving goodness and kindness, politely tapped me on the shoulder and said "did you catch that? Where has your heart and mind been lately Katie??"

I'll be honest, I've been staying up late trying to figure out the color scheme for the wedding (and if you know me at all, that is very odd!  I don't do details.) Or thinking about where and when we'll get married?  How many people will come? Where should we have a reception? Will people have a good time? These are only a few of the thoughts that continue to rattle my mind at any point in the day.  I think I missed the fact that I just GOT ENGAGED!!! It's okay not to know these things now AND what is the goal of the big day?

I praise God for putting Godly people in my life who can speak truth in love to me.  One friend and mentor reminded me just this morning to "Keep it simple. In this culture, chaotic and complicated are natural. Simplicity must be purposeful or it won't happen. You want the marriage of your dreams more than the wedding of your dreams."  With a sigh of relief, I've asked the Lord to forgive me and help me keep my heart and mind on things above.  I know He can help me!

I have been raised with Christ! I no longer live according to the world and my old ways, but it says I have "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:10)

My prayer for this week is to keep my heart and mind on things above, on Christ and His character.  To glorify Him in the relationships and the work He's called me to.

So my question to you is: What is your heart and mind set on?

Monday, October 7, 2013

WE'RE ENGAGED!!

Reenactment the day after :)

In it's simpliest form...Mark proposed to me on my front porch coming back from dinner on Saturday Oct 5th, 2013...and I said YES!!!

THE WHOLE STORY:
When did he ask my dad? Mark asked my dad for permission to propose the first week in September when we were at the beach with my family.  Mom and I had left to get our nails done and that's when Mark asked him.

Where did he get the ring? This same week of vacation, my mom gave Mark the ring that I wanted him to use to propose, its a family heirloom which was planned to be passed down to me.  I loved the diamond but wasn't crazy about the band so Mark was given their blessing to change the band.

The gorgeous ring with a family heirloom diamond and crafted by my MN dad!
Who reset the ring you ask? This is one of my favorite parts about the ring, other than the diamond being in my family for years, it was reset by somebody I know!! Over the last 5 years I've met tons of people on volunteer teams and one team from MN has adopted me as their daughter so yes one of my Minnesota dads who is a jeweler by profession made my engagement ring!! He gave me a card a long time ago to give to Mark if he ever decided to propose.  I passed it on to Mark and said hey if you wanna call him go for it.  So sure enough, Mark sent the ring and new band off to my MN dad and he reset it and sent it all back to Mark without me finding it!  How cool!! Who would've thought that my MN dads would play a part in my proposal! Thank you Lord for all the people you've put in my life!

So what happened on Saturday Oct 5th, 2013...the detailed version!

We started off the day with coffee and devos! I am so blessed to have such a Godly man in my life who loves the Lord, loves reading the Word, and makes amazing coffee!! (and yes I'm biased!) Then we went for a run around the city, again praising God for a man who loves to be healthy and active! After running, we started our Precept Acts study...I mean honestly, how did I get so lucky? Mark and I are doing the same Bible Study in Acts through a church in Georgia. I asked Mark what we were doing for our dinner date and he says I got it planned out so don't worry.  I should've known maybe something was up but instead my response was "sweet!" Mark then headed off to work at our friend Josh's house that is undergoing renovations to their kitchen, again he loves to serve!  In the meantime, I worked on some intern stuff and took a friend to get a TV from another friend of ours.  When we met back up, we spent some time watching TV shows..haha yes Duck Dynasty may have been one of them!

Now when Mark leaves to go shower at the place where he's staying in the city, that's only what I thought. Turns out, he was trying to find a place to buy roses (for later) only to get lost in the french quarter! So I'm back at home getting ready for our dinner date not knowing he's lost around the city. Thankfully he finds the roses and his way back to his place to shower and tells me he got caught up talking to Matt (the guy he stays with in the city)...can't believe he lied to me ;)

When Mark does come to get me, he helps my roommate Mariko carry in some furniture (again what a servant!) she had just purchased.  While outside, she asked him where we were going for dinner.  He replies "Jacques-imo" and Mariko's reaction is "Are you proposing?" haha she knew! But Mark told her to keep it together until we left since I had no idea.

So off we went to dinner, where we had a 45 min wait but again I didn't mind, I had no idea what was going on.  Mark was a little more jittering than usual but I didn't think about it.  After dinner, we strolled along Oak St (one of my fav's in the city) then headed home.  I asked Mark if he wanted to get something sweet like ice cream and he said No!! Again I should've known then, this boy LOVES ice cream and he was turning it down. haha unbelievable.

THE PROPOSAL

Once we're home, I get out of the car carrying all my stuff (remember that) and walk up the steps to my front porch with Mark behind me.  I notice there are roses (yes those same roses) in my mailbox! As I reached for them, again carrying now all my stuff + roses, Mark gets down on one knee and says "Katie..will you marry me?" and is showing me the ring! In all my shock and excitement I can only think to say..."I'm carrying too much stuff!" So Mark in his kindness, gets up and helps me put things down then starts again, which of course I reply a happy happy happy "YES I'LL MARRY YOU!!"  He put the ring on my finger and it fit perfectly! We hugged and in shocking situations I laugh a lot and if you know my laugh, its quite funny.

We then go inside my house where Mariko my roommate is waiting at her bedroom door for us to come in!  Mark says let me introduce you to my fiance!!  She heard me laughing for 10 min and didn't know why we hadn't come inside...she didn't realize it wasn't til we got on the porch that Mark proposed.  She said she was glad she hadn't made that "Congratulations" sign like she thought about!  One of the reasons Mark picked my house was because I had wanted a private proposal and not in front of a bunch of people and this is a house we've both worked on through the ministry.  It's a sign of our love for the LORD who by His grace called us into a personal relationship with Him and out of that love, we have dedicated our lives to showing Christ's love to those in need!

As I type this and stare at my left ring finger which is a little more shinier than normal, I want to give all the glory and honor and praise to my God who gave me the ultimate gift of eternal life by grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ!  We are nothing without Him.  May this stage of Mark and I's relationship only continue to grow our love for God and our love for one another.

Please keep us in your prayers over the wedding details.  We don't know the date or location yet so please be patient with us as the LORD leads us.  We are trusting Him to guide us as always!  Please pray for our pre-marital counseling as we begin to invest time and energy into preparing for marriage!

Oh and in case you're curious who put the flowers in the mailbox...it was Matt, the friend Mark stays with who just moved down here to New Orleans after serving as a volunteer with Crisis Response this past winter break! God is so good!  Who knew that when I met Matt back in January as a team leader he'd be an accomplice on my engagement day! Only God knows stuff like that! :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A New Song in My Heart

I was giving the opportunity to share devotions in our staff meeting this morning.  Instead of sharing something from God's Word I played a song that helps me remember that my life here on earth is about praising God for sending His Son Jesus to be my savior.  I get so distracted sometimes in the busyness of life and ministry and lose sight of the reason why I'm here.

The song I played is one I heard from Camden Crossroads Community Church in Camden GA at the end of their worship service.  It's awesome.  One day I'll get to stand in front of my Savior and sing these words to Him. How cool is that!

The lyrics are below and here is the link to the song: http://youtu.be/D5l597vvV1k



Thank you for the cross Lord
Thank you for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord
Thank you for the nail pierced hands
Washed me in Your cleansing flow
Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crown
You reign victorious
High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
 The Darling of Heaven crucified
 Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Crown him with many crowns,
 the Lamb upon his throne,
 Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
 all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
 through all eternity.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Month in Photos

 This last month has flown by!  I started off in Louisiana, spent two weeks in North Carolina, and now I'm back in Louisiana with my boyfriend Mark!

Here are some photos to best summarize my month!

My Maryland mom and dad were able to come down to New Orleans to install windows in my church's new youth community center! They are such a blessing!


I was able to have breakfast with my roommates Carla and Mariko.  Sounds simple enough but with our crazy schedules this is a special special treat!
 To celebrate Chelsea's birthday, we had a google plus hangout with Chelsea, Ronnie, Jen, Shelby, and I! We were all in different states but praise the Lord for internet to connect us!

Before I flew out, I was able to hear my friend Nina perform with her group called The Redemption Family.  They were awesome and glorified God with awesome instruments, vocals, and lyrics!

I was able to see Celine in North Carolina!  We met in New Orleans when she came down on a volunteer team.  She graduated from UNC and has recently moved to Charlotte!  It was so cool to catch up with her and pray for one another.

 I stopped in to say hi to Church at Charlotte people and bumped into two of my favorite moms!! Taffney is my friend Christie's mom and Katy is my friends Joel and Grace's mom.  I was able to have lunch with Katy and share what God is doing in our lives!  Her grandson is pictured next!!

This is Bryce!!!!! He was born July 31st to my friends Meredith and Joel!  He is ADORABLE!!

I got to pick up my niece Madison after school and enjoy some Tony's ice cream and play at a park! Thankful for this time to spend with her! She's growing up fast!

Hooray for reunions with my bestest mate!!! Allie B!!!! So thankful to God for her and so thankful we got to see each other in a state neither of us live in! God is great!

Mark and I with some buddies from camp attended the wedding of former chiefs.  It was such a blessing to meet more of Mark's friends from camp and we look forward to seeing those guys next time in NC!

Mark and I got to spend an awesome beach vacation with my family at Sunset Beach NC! It was so relaxing and we celebrated our 1 year anniversary!  God sustained us through our long distance woods style relationship! He alone deserves the glory, honor, and praise!


On our way to Louisiana, we stopped off in Camden County GA to see a pastor and his family! This family and church body has been an awesome support to myself and have adopted Mark into the family!  We were so thankful to have 2 days with them and yes now we are BOTH in LOUISIANA!!! This photo is from a park in Covington! We praise the Lord for all He's done in our lives and where He's gonna take us!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Where is the balance??

August 19th, 2013

10 more days until the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  This will mark year 8 and my 5th year here in New Orleans.  I shared recently on facebook how one homeowner was touched by our efforts on her home in New Jersey, a place we serve now because the church in New Jersey came here to New Orleans to serve, caught the vision of what we were doing, so when Hurricane Sandy blew through, they were ready to respond!  It's crazy to think over the past 8 years everywhere God has taken us since Katrina.  And yes, 8 years later, there are still needs here.  If you don't believe me, come visit :)

As we look ahead to hurricane season, wondering where the next storm will go, we recognize that we want to be ready to respond with the love of Christ wherever the Lord takes us.  So right now, I'm intern-free and volunteer team-free but that doesn't I'm on free time (vacation for me starts Sept 1-8).  This is a time of debriefing on how the summer 2013 internship program went and a time of preparation for the Fall 2013.

This fall will include my boyfriend Mark moving to Louisiana.  It'll be interesting balancing ministry with having a local boyfriend but I'm definitely up for the challenge as long distance was never my favorite (but God continues to teach me a lot through it).

Ever since I have taken the role of Director of Interns in June 2010 I have traveled more than been here.  Then when I was accepted long term in October 2011, I was on the road seeking out ministry partners.  So for about 3 years I haven't felt as connected to my New Orleans community and I'm praying about ways to be more connected while still meeting my ministry goals.  I enjoy traveling, seeing how God is working in other places, and sharing how people can get involved with the ministry. I enjoy being an active member of my church and being a neighbor to my community.  So where do I find the balance in being planted in my community and being on the road?

The other balancing act most people don't realize is I live in central city New Orleans in a house with two great roommates but my interns and office are located on the N. Shore of Lake Pontchartrain (about 45 min commute).  So it's hard being in both places and sometimes I wish the lake could be smaller but sometimes it does serve as a good buffer when I need to take a break. So any insights are welcome on how I can balance working on the N. Shore and living in the city from all my commuter buddies out there.

Balance seems to be the recurring theme of this post...and for some reason I can still remember my pastor saying several years ago that you find balance when you "Love God with all ya got, and love people til ya drop."  At first you think, that doesn't sound like balance but let me explain what I think he meant.  When you love God with all you got, you spend time with Him, you find rest in Him, you listen for His voice, you are obedient to that voice, you rest when he says rest, you go when he says go, you serve Him wholeheartedly and everything you do whether in word or deed is done on behalf of Christ.  When you love people til ya drop, you are living out the calling on your life and since you are being obedient to God's voice, you are listening for the relationships you are called to build.  You love people on behalf of Christ, not just to look like a good person. When you love people with all you got, you are pleasing your Heavenly Father and He will give you energy and guide your steps in those relationships.

The idea of balance isn't really spelled out word for word in the Bible.  However, we know that the Lord Jesus was never out of balance.  He was perfectly in balance in His relationships and His work.  He is our example.  Jesus never seemed bothered about finding balance. He always loved God and loved others!  He found time to get alone and pray. He found time to heal the sick, preach the Kingdom of God, and feed the hungry.  He slept, He traveled, He told parables and I'm pretty sure he had the same 24 hours in a day that we have.  Jesus also didn't have an expectation of what balance should look like.  He was willing to serve His Father however He was asked to.  He wasn't selfish with His time but recognized that His time was not His own.  I think sometimes this is where I fail, in fact I know it is.  I want to find MY idea of balance and not the Lord's idea of balance. Lord forgive me and show me what you want balance to look like in my life.

So right now what does balance look like for me?  Spending time with my Heavenly Father, being obedient to His voice, and seeking out His plan for my days through prayer, His Word, and Godly counsel.  The classic Jim Elliot phrase always pops up too: Wherever you are, be all there.  Thanks Jim, I'll keep praying about it :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's August Already??

I'm still amazed at how each summer seems to go faster than the last one.  June was spent with the amazing intern Wren and we welcomed intern Anna to our New Orleans family in mid-June!  July was spent welcoming intern Katie (back from her spring internship) and intern Cristi all the way from Chile!  One week in July was spent spreading the news about what Crisis Response does to our leadership conference and another week was spent serving alongside Hershey EFC in Haiti where I got to celebrate my 27th bday (with my boyfriend Mark) and check in with the Haiti interns and staff.  August will be spent with one more week of NOLA teams, lots of summer interns departing, and settling back into life in NOLA along with getting prepared for my trip home to NC at the end of the month.

I praise God for all the many blessings and trials from this summer.  I pray that in every situation I use it as a chance to bring Him glory.  Even though the summer is winding down and we'll have about a month off from volunteer teams, we recognize that God is always at work and to be fully immersed in ministry wherever He has us.  We also recognize that Hurricane Season is in full swing in the months of August and September so we will be preparing as much as possible for the potential for a fall deployment.  (Maybe clear your calendar too incase we need you in the mission field that follows crisis!)

Please pray for me this month as I take some time to discern what God wants for me this fall and where my travels will take me.  I will be traveling to NC at the end of this month and would love to meet with anyone about what God is doing through the ministry and through me.  In personal news, I will be driving back to LA with my boyfriend Mark who will be moving here! (Praise God for a close-distance relationship after a year of long distance!) 

I plan to be in NC August 24th-29th to meet with people then in Cameron NC to see Mark graduate from camp August 29th-31st then at Sunset Beach September 1st-September 7th.  Let me know if you are around to connect with me.

Hope you have a blessed day!  Happy August! :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hi my name is Katie and I'm an accidental pharisee.....Hi Katie.

First off, my apologies for my severe time lapse between posts.  I recognize when I fail to communicate what is going on in my life, I'm missing my chance to praise God for all He's done and ask for continued prayers in the work He's called me to.  Sometimes it is hard to write a blogpost when nothing stands out to share...however, I want to be a dedicated communicator of all things God puts on my heart to share and I pray with your forgiveness and God's help, I can be just that.

Secondly, so I read this book.  I had my doubts about reading the book Accidental Pharisees written by Larry Osborne because the tagline is "avoiding pride, exclusivity, and other dangers of overzealous faith."  I've never seen myself as having an "overzealous" faith (at least not the overzealous that comes to my mind).  And exlusivity...I hope I'm not an exclusive person rather an includer of all peoples.  Okay, pride...now that one and that one alone sold me.  I know I struggle with pride because when you are given the title "missionary" you can't help but easily accept the pedestal that comes with it and forget that all believers are called to missions in some shape or fashion.  So I bought the book and read it.

The result: Hi my name is Katie and I'm an accidental pharisee....Hi Katie.

The book highlighted many things I was doing that wasn't projecting an "unworthy servant" lifestyle but a "pharisee" lifestyle. I wanted praise for my obedience, I was finding pride in my "missionary" status, I was looking down on others who weren't walking with the Lord as closely as I am (or what I thought I was).  I was incredibly guilty of gift projection..thinking everyone who is a follower of Jesus should have the same calling as me, the same excitement level and be stretched the same way I am and should be just as talkative about their faith as I try to be.  However, I forgot that God is way more creative than that. Just the sentence underlined "A servant who obeys has done nothing special." whack! My obedience isn't to earn me praise..it's a "byproduct of loving Jesus!"  Lord forgive me.  Remind me that I'm an "unworthy servant; I have only done my duty." (Luke 17:10) 

Jesus spent his time preaching to thousands who would hear what he'd have to say and turn around and leave.  He wasn't preaching to the super committed, strong willed, all out servant hearted...this book reminded me his audience was to the weak-willed, uncommitted, struggling in their journey of who is God and who has He called me to be.  His disciples even argued about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom and yet He kept with them.  He didn't look down on them or judge them.  He loved them and encouraged them. He taught them how to pray, how to remain humble, how to minister to hurting people...all the while knowing they would desert him at the cross.  If Jesus had wanted to preach to only the super committed, strong willed then he would've preached to the Pharisees but we know how He felt about them and we know how they felt about Him.

I say all this to say...I need to get off my high horse.  I need to love the people God puts in my path right where they are at, despite their background, commitment level, or passion for what I think they should be passionate about. 

Lord I pray that I can say instead, "Hi my name is Katie and I'm an unworthy servant...Praise the Lord!"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Family Schrieber to the Rescue!


plan for the day: Baltimore to Miami to port au prince to gressier!!

God's plan for the day: Baltimore to Miami to...that's it. 

We always talk about expectations and my travel expectation for the day was not met. However, another families expectation for the day wasn't met either. The Schrieber family woke up today with one goal in mind. They were spending the day as a family moving a shed from their neighbor's house to their backyard. This involved emptying the shed, dismantling the shed, carrying the pieces across the street, and reassembling the shed. 

However around 9am, Nic receives a call from me asking if he can host my 4 Haiti interns and myself in Miami until Wednesday due to a cancelled flight. Not knowing what he was getting himself into, their whole family came in two SUVs to rescue us from the airport. 

Praise God for His plan is best!! We are enjoying the company of a family who loves The Lord and loves to host random people! And don't worry, not only did they meet their goal of shed relocating, they had 5 extra set of hands to help! 

Again I'm forever grateful for the body of Christ!  It would be easy to fixate on the fact that we all are "stuck" in Miami but The Lord is turning this "sticky" situation into a time of bonding, fellowship, fun, and service all for His glory! I praise God for the fantastic four (Andrew, Andrea, Megan, and Hannah) who have modeled adaptability, flexibility, patience, and joyful spirits throughout the whole day! 

Granted we will fall asleep tonight still in the USA and still one day away from Haiti, we are thrilled to see how God will use this for His glory and teach us about Him and each other! 
The plane blocking the runway in Haiti

The fantastic four patiently waiting for all their bags!
Working on the shed
Shed complete!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All Over the Place!

After a month of travel, I am praising God for His provision of safety and fruitful connections He gave during my travels.  After visiting six states this month, I'd like to share some of the highlights from the trips. 

Highlights from my first trip to San Antonio:
- I was able to reconnect with Ben & Emily, previous Crisis Response staffers and share life with them.
- I was blessed to reconnect with the volunteers of a church who has come to NOLA.  The youth pastor and his family have recently started a church plant in San Antonio and while I was there, they held their first service in the building God provided!  Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

Highlights from my 2nd trip to the Frozen Tundra (aka Minnesota & Iowa):
- I survived driving in snow!!
- I got to enjoy a New Orleans team reunion with Dordt College!!! It was awesome!
- I attended the North Central District conference.  Out of 300 people, the one guy who sits beside me at dinner is one of the ORIGINAL volunteers right after Katrina!  The gentleman told me story after story of how God worked in those beginning days after the crisis.  As he spoke, tears came into his eyes as he shared about a homeowner they worked for and prayed with.  He said when the Louisiana pastor said they needed "men with chainsaw" he knew the Lord was talking to him!  How amazing!!

Highlights from my 3rd trip to Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas:
- Getting to road trip with my intern Katie!  The Lord allowed us to get to know each other more and share this adventure together!
- The chance to reunite with supporters who I hadn't seen in a while was a huge blessing!!
- I attended my 2011 intern Chelsea's bridal shower and couldn't be happier for her and Dustin as they begin their life together as a married couple on May 25th!
- The chance to reconnect with college students at Southwest Baptist, John Brown, and College of the Ozarks was amazing!  Thank you Lord for this next generation you are raising up of men and women after your own heart!
- Last but not least is Libby.  Libby is 10 yrs old and the daughter of a youth pastor we got to stay with on our travels.  After dinner, we all got to play wii and Katie & I are pretty competitive people.  The one thing that really stood out to me was Libby's complete humbleness and encouragement to us even when she'd win.  She didn't once rub it in our face that she had won and continued to lift us up even when the natural thing to do is gloat.  I was completely struck by her and when I asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up, she replied "missionary."  I praise God that I had the chance to meet Libby and how much she taught me about encouragement and putting others before myself. 

Huge shout out to everyone who prayed for Katie & I on our travels along with fed us and housed us.  I am continually blown away by the generosity of the Body of Christ!   Thank you for your partnership with me in furthering the Gospel wherever He calls!

Monday, April 1, 2013

She's a part of the family now!

Katie, Katie, and Holly!
I first met Holly when she came to New Orleans on a short term mission trip in 2010.  It's funny thinking back to that week as we both know we met each other but we hardly spoke.  It wasn't until March 2012 when she returned on another team where I got to connect with Holly more.

Holly's trip in March led to another one-week trip in April then another visit in July.  Holly, like me, could not get New Orleans and Crisis Response out of her system and every time she came down she felt the Lord revealing more of Himself to her.  So when she came down again in December over winter break, we had the opportunity to get coffee.  It was this week that she felt the Lord calling her to commit to serving with us for the month of March.  Even though Holly had never left home before, she trusted the Lord with this plan and followed through! Praise God!

Holly with girls from Southwest Baptist
I had no idea how much of a blessing she would be to us as Holly increased our capacity with teams and also provided another girl around for intern Katie!  Holly's quiet spirit and serving diligently in the face of trials I know taught me TONS!  Praise Be To God for bringing her here!  Pics of Holly serving with Dordt, Southwest Baptist, and with the Katies.

The cool part of this story is that Holly had asked the Lord to reveal her next step while serving with us for the month of March.  Holly wanted to be involved in ministry in some capacity but didn't know what that would look like.  (Of course God knew!)  While being here, the opportunity of serving on our team in Staten Island, NY arose and Holly began praying about it.  Holly prayed and sought Godly counsel from friends and family and agreed to apply to serve on our Staten Island team for an extended period of time! WOOHOO! PRAISE THE LORD!!

Holly with dordt college
Holly decided back in January to put aside any fears and follow wherever the Lord leads.  She knew coming to New Orleans for the month of March would be an opportunity to serve the people of New Orleans and she'd have the chance to grow in her walk with the Lord.  Even though she had no idea that Staten Island would be her next destination she committed her plans to the Lord and allowed Him to guide her every step!

I pray that we all can follow Holly's example of obedience, trusting the Lord, and take step #1 in faith even when we don't know what step #2 is at the time. 

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to be apart of Holly's life!

 (Yes Holly you are now officially apart of our Crisis Response family! Love you and miss you!)




Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Used to be a killin' zone"

Wednesday afternoon wasn't much different than any other Wednesday with teams.  We had picked the week before where to host the block parties and I was set to lead the one at Brother Larry's home.  Brother Larry's home is right behind House of Hope Church in the upper 9th ward which is where we've worked since 2010.

Brother Larry & Pastor Rod from Clear Lake IA
One community resident Kevin begins to share with us through tears what this community used to be like.  He tells us how in his words "this used to be a killin' zone; this was the Florida projects, 9th ward."  He goes on to show us bullet wounds and that someone of my "color" would never have been accepted here.  

The once 'Florida Project' has since been demolished and the empty lot that now remains sits across the street from House of Hope.  I've heard multiple times from Pastor Gerald how this used to be the most dangerous project in New Orleans.  According to Wikipedia, it was one of the most crime-ridden areas and:

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,604 people, 399 households, and 346 families residing in the neighborhood.  As of the census of 2010, there were 6 people, 2 households, and 2 families residing in the neighborhood.



getting set up! Thanks Dordt!






Giovi from Dordt with community resident Ms Ruby!
So yes the neighborhood has indeed changed (where have all these families gone??) and the obvious emotional scars that Kevin among many other residents have still resides.  So what can a NC girl who grew up in the suburbs with 16 volunteers from Iowa do for our brother Kevin?  We pray with him.  We pray for him and he prays for us.  We fellowship with him.  We let him know God has not forgotten him nor his community.   We break bread with him (well hot dogs but you get the gist) and Kevin even runs home to bring out cans of chili and a pot for us to make chili dogs.  We share with each other all we have and show each other love of Christ!   

Community resident Sean with Chipper from IA
Kevin's willingness to not only stop by but to bring friends, to accept prayer and pray for us, to open his heart to complete strangers, to let his guard down and be vulnerable with his brothers and sisters in Christ is something I pray I can imitate in my own life.  Kevin wasn't afraid to stop and meet us right where we were...how many times am I too afraid to stop and meet someone right where they are?  Kevin was willing to take a chance on us...am I willing to a chance on others?

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to meet Kevin.  Thank you that this encounter has challenged the context of the purpose of Christ in me.  Thank you that we all come to the cross in need of a Savior, in need of redemption!

"How good and pleasing it is when God's people live together in unity." Psalm 133:1

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We're March'in on!!

Well Hello March 2013! We've been waiting for you!

Before I start out with what March has in store, February was a great month too!  Intern Katie has been on the ground for 2 weeks now and has received lots of training on what does a crisis response ministry look like and where she fits.  She'll be starting this week with coordinating the volunteer teams coming and investing in them while they serve on the ground.

As a ministry we were able to gather together last week and it was GREAT having everyone together again!  Our staff from New Jersey came along with our remote team that is scattered throughout the nation.  It's always such a blessing to see everyone face to face and be encouraged by what the Lord has done in us and through us.  Also it's a time to plan and dream big about what does next look like for us.  My takeaway from the week was the reminder that while serving in the wake of a crisis, our end result is not just the home being rebuilt, but about establishing reproducing faith communities.  Our goal is not just to build physical homes, but play a part in God's redemptive plan in the areas we serve!

NEW ORLEANS UPDATE:
We have a team of 5 from Praise Christian Fellowship in PA.  One is a 3.5 year old boy who while boarding the plane last night sang "Jesus loves me" for all to hear.  God can use anyone no matter how old or how young to share the story of Jesus's love! I praise God for how He'll use this team to hang sheetrock and mud at Mr. Willie's home but also how He'll use them to further His Kingdom in the lower 9th and beyond!

CASTLE ROCK UPDATE:
Last week, two teams who I've met in the past, Bible EFC (Tomah WI) and Church at Charlotte (NC) served at my church Castle Rock to renovate the old sanctuary into a Youth Community Center!  It looks AMAZING!! They are praying to have all the work completed by May!  There will be hip-hop services held there and its purpose is to allow youth a safe place to gather where they can hear the Good News of Jesus and allow Him to transform their hearts and lives! Praise God for the lives that will be impacted by this facility. 

Please pray for:


March will be a busy month of teams and more teams.  There are 4 colleges coming to serve this month and my prayer is that God would work in their hearts and raise up interns from these groups!  We have 4 interns approved for Haiti this summer but not any for New Orleans.  Please pray that God would work in their hearts now, they walk in obedience to His Spirit and desire to serve with us this summer and beyond!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Katie meet Katie!!

Praise The Lord!! On Saturday, He brought our staff the awesome intern Katie for the next 3 months! It has been such a joy to spend time with her and get to share with her all that God is doing in the world of TouchGlobal and show her around!

She has enjoyed getting to know the volunteers this week (who are amazing) and seeing their excitement for serving The Lord in New Orleans! This week she is shadowing me and getting a taste of what volunteer coordinating looks like so she can take on this role!

Katie has never been down here before but her church has and that's how she found us. In July she felt God leading her to apply for our internship program and began the application process. She was approved then moved on to the support raising phase where she grew in her trust and faith in God's timing and provision. Amen to that!

Please continue to pray for Katie as she transitions from PA to LA. Please pray she will not feel anxious but rest in The Lord as she is absorbing lots of information and taking in a whole new environment and culture. Please pray for me as I mentor her: that our friendship would grow, that we both would grow closer to The Lord and that God's spirit would lead me and guide me as I invest in Katie!

So yes we do have the same name...we are looking for suggestions on how best to differentiate our names so we don't always both look when someone says "Katie." Suggestions are welcomed!

So far we have:
Katie and Katie K
Old Katie and new Katie
Big k and Lil k (I'm big k)
Katie and Kepko (her last name)
Boss k and intern k

Thanks for your prayers and please pray the rain holds off this week so we can have a block party and share Gods love with the neighborhood!

In Christ,
Katie (Hooks)

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalms 37:5, 6 NIV84)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Happy Happy!

If you watch TV show Duck Dynasty (filmed in W Monroe Louisiana), you know that one of the famous sayings from the show is "Happy Happy Happy."

Well today I'm Happy Happy Happy for a number of reasons...
One - it was an absolutely gorgeous day outside and it was one of those days I felt like I could run forever.
Two - after being on vacation for a week I was able to get caught up on emails and voicemails! yippee!
Three - I got to have a valentines lunch date with my girl Laura and a dinner date with my roomy Mariko! Love these ladies!
Four - I was able to catch up on the phone with my fellow staffer Laura Jean and my fellow missionary Kacie who are both raising support to serve on various mission fields (let me know if you'd like to support them! they are great!)
Five - I got to have some sweet fellowship with the Lord today which is always needed and a blessing!
Six - my spring intern Katie left PA today and is on her way to Louisiana after visiting family in Florida! She'll be here Saturday for a three month internship!!
Seven - my amazing Valentine Mark gets out of the woods tomorrow! (if you don't know he works for a wilderness camp for troubled boys and literally lives in the woods with the boys 5 days out of the week so we talk the other 2 days)

New Orleans Team Update
We have two teams from IL arriving this weekend! Please pray for their safe arrival and their time serving with us.  Feb 25-27 is our semi-annual ministry planning meetings where all TouchGlobal staff meet up in New Orleans to discuss the ministry's mission and goals we want to see accomplished to fulfill the mission. Please pray for God's will to be done, safety for those traveling here, and for unity among the team.  P.S. WE NEED YOUR HELP IN MARCH!! We have 4 weeks straight of teams in March and could use help cooking, leading construction sites, volunteer management, and everything in between! Let me know if you can come!(katie.hooks@efca.org)

Thoughts on Valentine's Day
Yes today is Valentine's Day and a day to celebrate the ones we love but I also want to emphasize how God is love and We love because He FIRST loved us (1 John 4:19)!  He tangibly shows His love to us everyday and how He gave us His one and only Son that we may not perish but have eternal life!  God loves you!  Let us not forget to imitate His love to those around us.  If you have questions about God and this unconditional love, please feel free to contact me (katie.hooks@efca.org)

From the Bible: 1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.