Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What happens when you say "Let's stop and talk to the first person we see."

Four days after the flood, October 9th, Katie, Frank(a member of Riverside), and I were driving through a neighborhood rumored to be heavily impacted by the flooding.  As we were driving, we could see homes that had been impacted, but we were unable to make contact with any of the homeowners.  We decided that the next person we saw outside we would stop and talk to them.  As we continued through the neighborhood, we saw a lady coming out of her front door carrying a box so we backed up and stopped.  As I hopped out of the car, I could tell Lisa was not happy to see us.  We soon learned though that there had been numerous gawkers driving through the neighborhood.

Al and Lisa's home being dried out after the belongings were removed
After introducing ourselves and sharing a little about Riverside Community Church, the church we are partnering with, we asked if they needed any help.  Lisa explained that the Congaree River that runs right behind her house rose all the way up into their finished basement.  The water level reached nearly a foot in the basement.  Frank, Katie, and I decided to go back to the church to recruit some more help for removing the contents of Al and Lisa's home.

When we returned an hour later with over half a dozen people, we got to meet Lisa's husband, Al.  Al shared that before we showed up he felt hopeless and unsure of where to begin.  As we hauled their belongings to the curb, he continued to thank us for helping them.  I just kept praising God that He had allowed Lisa to be outside just as we were driving by. After a couple of hours of hauling things to the curb, we were able to get everything out.  As we wrapped up for the day, we spent a few minutes praying for Al and Lisa and thanking God for His perfect timing.  Al and Lisa both were choked up as they thanked us and told us how we had given them hope again.

As I reflected on the afternoon later that day, I was struck by what Al had said about giving them hope and how that's exactly what God did for us.  We were in a hopeless condition because of our sin; we deserved death.  "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Eph 2:4-5) Thank you Lord for paying the price for our sins and giving us an eternal hope. 

You can contact us for more info on how you, your family, and your church can be involved in the flood recovery efforts here in SC.  You can also visit our website to find out how you can donate funds towards this response.  We hope to see yall here in SC!

**The story continues: During the first week of November, we were able to send a team from Utah to help install the new sheetrock.  Al and Lisa were blown away by God's provision and we were thankful to get to serve them in the wake of the floods.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

LEADing according to Katie

I wanted to share my definition of "LEAD" according to Katie.  I try to run through this definition on a weekly (if not daily) basis and gauge how I'm doing in these areas. 

L - LOVE God (heart)

Loving God with all of my heart is crucial for being the leader He wants me to be.   My desire is that my heart always stays devoted and connected to God so that I can lead the way that pleases Him..  I wrote about this part in my last newsletter which you can find here

E - Example Setter (in words and actions)

As a leader and person of influence, I set the example in my words and actions.  Trust me, whatever I do, there are people watching and listening, with the potential of copying my behavior.  I am called to follow the example of Christ who washed His disciples feet (John 13:14-15).  I am called to serve, not to be served.  Is my example something I want someone else to copy?

A - Attitude of Christ (motives and emotions)

There are times when I can set the example, but my attitude is totally wrong.  Mark and I joke about "not earning any jewels for that."  But I know if my attitude is humble, kind, denying of self, servant-like.  Is my attitude pleasing to God as I lead those in my care?  Who am I trying to promote, myself or Christ?

D - Developer of Others (disciple-maker)

When I lead, it's not just for the sake of leading.  I want to see every person I lead grow and succeed in whatever God has called them to.  It's not about ME!  It's not about them.  It's about God!  It's about bringing Him glory by being faithful "to admonish and teach everyone with all wisdom SO THAT we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."  Am I giving others the opportunity to grow and succeed? Am I encouraging them to be a developer of others?

When I look back over my life before ministry, I was NEVER the leader.  I was typically the supportive role that served the leader and was happy to keep the team united towards our common goal.  Since joining this ministry, God has stretched me in the roles He has placed me in.  I led the volunteer teams for two years and for the last five years I've led our internship program.  I've learned TONS throughout my years here and I know I have more to learn.  I'm thankful for the ReachGlobal Leadership Cohort that will help me lead the way God has designed for me.

This summer, I'm leading through two lead interns as they lead the remaining six interns.  This has stretched me already as my responsibility wants to kick in and be in charge.  However, praise God He has given me a desire to see others grow and I want the lead interns to grow by giving away some of my responsibilities.  I couldn't be more excited for what God has in store for this summer.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

and I'm loved by You, it's who I am...

After an amazing two weeks in the northeast, Mark and I arrived home late Friday night.  We were tired but mostly happy that we get to spend a whole week in Louisiana (we leave Saturday for Denver and Estes Park).  It has been such a blessing to reconnect with friends and be back in our neighborhood.  Sunday at church, we sang a song I had not heard before but the lyrics touched my heart.  Before you read my thoughts, take time to listen to the song yourself.

Lyric 1: You tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone
God is pleased with me!  I needed that reminder as I continually fall short of His glory and struggle to keep Him #1 in my heart and life.  He is pleased with me....thank you Lord!  God is always with me.  I also seem to think that He's not there with me when I'm going through tough times or need to decide something, but HE IS!  He wants me to rely on Him

Lyric 2: 
You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are, It's who you are, It's who you are
and I'm loved by you
It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am

God is a good good Father!  It is who He is.  In Him, there is NO darkness, NO sin, NO evil.  He is my good Father who knows what is best for me.  HE LOVES ME and that is WHO I AM.  I am loved by God.  He loves me with an everlasting love and being loved by God is who I am.  My identity isn't found in my occupation or in my relationship status or in my successes or in my failures.  Being loved by God is who I am and that never changes. 

When Jesus was baptized, God spoke not words of an agenda or ministry plan but words of a powerful reminder of His identity.  He is God's Son and God is well pleased with Him.  This jump started Jesus' ministry and for so many of us, we need this constant reminder of our identity.  We are God's children, loved by God, and He is pleased with us.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven,
 “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
Mark 1:9-11

Lyric 3: You [God] are perfect in all of your ways to us.
Yes God is perfect. His ways are perfect.  His timing is perfect.  His responses to our prayers are perfect.  He is always trustworthy and always true.

Lyric 4: As you call me deeper still
God is calling me and all of us to a deeper, closer walk with Him.  Our relationship with God is the most important relationship.  He wants us to continue to go deeper in our walk with Him and discover more of His character and heart.  He wants us to multiply our talents and go deep in our walks. 

I praise God for the chance to worship at our church on Sunday and to hear this song that I've continued to sing everyday since.  Feel free to comment or share what stands out to you from this song. Thanks!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Prayer of Faith

The team with Ms. Bonnie and her grandchildren

It was a overcast Tuesday morning, and the clouds looked as though they could unload their burden anytime.  The team from Allen, TX, made up of high school students and a couple leading the group, piled out of the van at Ms. Bonnie's home.  It was our second day at the job site and there was energy and excitement in the group for another day serving Ms. Bonnie and praying in the community.

Due to the threatening weather, we decided to go on a prayer walk first thing.  After saying a word of prayer as a group, we split up into three groups to canvas the neighborhood.   On prayer walks, we walk around the neighborhood praying for the area and with anyone we come across.  My group prayed with a couple people and after about 20 minutes we made our way back to Ms. Bonnie's.  We were the first group back so we spent a few minutes praying for the other groups and then started working.

About five minutes later, another group made it back, so I encouraged them to continue to pray for the last group while they started working.  About thirty minutes later, the leader came up to me and said "Let me know when I should be concerned that the other group isn't back yet." I encouraged him that normally when groups are gone for this long, it means they're having a conversation with someone so let's keep praying for them.  Another half an hour passed so we went out on the front porch to look for them, then we caught glimpse of the bright green volunteer shirts.  A collective "praise the Lord" was uttered and we ran out to meet them.

It was obvious from the huge smiles on their faces that something great had happened.  They went on to share with us that for the first twenty minutes of their prayer walk they hadn't talked or prayed with anyone so they stopped on a street corner and asked the Lord for someone to interact with.  No more than two minutes later they ran into someone right in front of a convenience store and they prayed with him.  He then connected them to the owner of the store, John*, and they talked with him.  He began asking them questions and discussing differences in their beliefs.

John was open to discussion and hearing more about the gospel so the group, right in the middle of the store, clearly shared the good news of Jesus Christ with him and all those around.  "It was so amazing, God is so good" shared one team member.  As the group finished telling the story, the rain cut loose and started pouring on us.  We retreated to the porch where we thanked God for the amazing prayer walk and prayed that He would continue to work in John's life. Please join us in praying for him.

What a challenging reminder that I need to pray with expectancy; not just hoping God will answer, but believing He will according the promises in His word.  Mark 11:24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

*name changed

Monday, February 16, 2015

Celebrating One Year of Wedded Blessings!

I'm so thankful to God for this first year of marriage.   Mark and I had the unique opportunity to celebrate our one-year anniversary trapped inside due to heavy snowfall in Indiana.  As you can see from the picture, we won't forget this day easily. Mark and I have had a wonderful first year of marriage and we know it's because Christ remains at the center of it!

Granted, it wasn't all bliss.  Whenever you put two selfish, sinful people together, there will be conflict.  We both have had to learn a lot about serving one another even when it's not convenient or easy.  We are continuing to learn how to listen when our spouse is upset without responding defensively.  We are challenged to make sure we keep dating each other.  We have had to share our Saturdays because Mark likes to make a to-do list and Katie likes to-do nothing!

I'm not exactly sure what our second year of marriage will look like but I can only imagine there will be more learning!  We are praying that soon we'll both be full-time with the ministry to serve God and what He has called us to.  We are currently at 67% of recurring giving (check out the "Ways to Partner With Us" tab to learn more).   This season of ministry partnership development has taught us about how we're wired and how we can begin to think we are self-sufficient.  We are reminded daily that God is the one we are called to rely on and He is our provider. 

Leading up to our anniversary, we spent 10 days sharing about our call to ministry with friends and family from Mark's home church along with a 3-day visit to Chicago to recruit interns at Trinity International University.  It was such a blessing to meet more of Mark's home church family and to thank them for their Godly influence into Mark's life. 

Mark and I were blessed in so many ways by our time up north and here are some of the highlights:

1) spending lots of time with our nephew Clark and niece Chloe

2) sharing about intern opportunities at Trinity

3) having opportunities to share with Mark's mission board and families from his home church about our call to missions
4) introducing the game Pandemic to anyone who would play with us. It's so good! 
5) being blessed with free places to stay every single night including two nights in a hotel! Thanks to everyone who housed us and fed us!

 Thanks for taking the time to read our blog!
God bless,
Katie :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Who am I trying to please?

  It was January 2nd and I had decided I didn't care about New Years Resolutions. It wasn't that I was already giving up on the ones I made, I just didn't really care about setting any.  But as I was doing my devotions and I came across this passage, Luke 6:6-10: 

 "On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”  He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus."

The Lord started stirring in my heart something I had been thinking about for awhile: my tendency to be a people-pleaser.  My motivation, decision making, my work ethic as well as other things are often dictated by my desire to please others, or gain their approval.  As I read this passage, the part that stood out to me was that Jesus had the man stand up in front of everyone.  If it was me, I would've healed his hand discretely, not to cause a scene or upset the Pharisees.  I would've whispered to him "meet me in the back in 20 minutes" or something sneaky like that, but instead Jesus takes him upfront and uses the healing to confront the Pharisees and me.  

 As I was thinking about it, I realized how sinful this mentality of people pleasing is.  My motivation needs to be to please God and to bring His name glory at all times. I started exploring more of this theme in scripture and I came across Galatians 1:10 "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."  "Whoa, hold on, I'm not that bad" my flesh tried to argue, but I knew this is what I had to grow in this year.  So please pray for me, pray that I will be a God-pleaser rather than a people-pleaser.  That the Holy Spirit will continue to convict me when my thought process and decision making is not focused on bringing God glory! I know it will be an ongoing journey, but I thank God for convicting me and for all of your prayers!