Secret Time…

by Katie on May 9, 2017

Can I tell you a secret and trust you not to share it with anyone else? Because it’s kind of embarrassing and I’m only telling you because I really think it will help to get it off of my chest…

I get hives.

There you go. I admitted it. But not the normal hives. Not hives that you get because you ate food that you’re allergic to or that appear after swiping up against an unfamiliar plant in the woods… No, that’s not it at all. My hives start to show up when I’m overly anxious or worked up about something. The phenomenon first started when I was twenty-three years old, living in my first real apartment across town from my parents. The apartment I rented with a friend from camp who, to this day (unless she’s reading this), doesn’t know that I get hives.

I was going through my first real health issue, a complication of the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome I had been diagnosed with before college, and I was a basket-case. My parents lovingly answered phone call after phone call of symptoms, talked me through urgent care center visits, and attempted to soothe my fears. Until the evening I noticed the left side of my upper lip was swelling.

I called my mom.

Honey, you’re fine. It’s probably nothing. Just try to calm down, watch some TV, and go to bed.

She didn’t believe me? I used my handy dandy smartphone to send a picture.
My mom called back pretty quickly.

It looks like a hive. Did you eat anything out of the ordinary?

No! Of course I didn’t! If I had, I would have told her. As my nervous rambling picked up, she tried to comfort me again, but I answered with the most logical response I could come up with.

“Mom, I’m dying.” (Have I mentioned that sometimes I have a tendency to assume the worst?)

When she invited me to spend the night at their house, I quickly agreed, packed a bag full of work clothes – on the off chance I survived to the next morning – and drove across town to be tucked into my childhood bed, kissed goodnight, and wished sweet dreams. I asked my mother to check on me when she woke in the morning to make sure I was still breathing. She seemed hesitant, but she agreed. Before I drifted off, I prayed frantically that God would let me live to see one more day.

The next morning, I woke up and realized my life had been spared…and my lip was almost back to its normal size. Life easily continued on – working and laughing and occasionally reaching up to check that the hive was still at bay with the tips of my fingers. I got the singular hive a few more times in the coming years, but now the situation has escalated. In fact, just the other day as I curled up in my bed, I was plagued by several hives across my cheeks and jawline with a lovely red rash.

Sure enough, a dose of Benadryl and a good night of sleep later, the hives had disappeared once more.

And while I could let these odd cases of the hives get me worked up and even more anxious, I could let them barricade me in my childhood bedroom with the door tightly shut and my parents to monitor my breathing… that reaction would leave me in a rather hopeless situation.

You see, I firmly believe Satan knows when I’m most vulnerable and he adds another hive to the growing collection, ripping the carpet from under me and leaving me wondering what’s real and what’s just my fear creeping up, unable to discern the difference between reality and anxiety. But my hope doesn’t lie in what’s right in front of me or what I can touch and see. It doesn’t rely on the day in and day out emotions I feel.

My hope lies in the faith of the promise of new life that was secured through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

It is a hope that is seen and felt in the little things – watching baby chicks grow into real chickens, laughing at a children’s message where a five-year-old has no filter as they answer, quality time with your best friends and family. Hope that exists because God loves us enough to let light overcome darkness.

I don’t know what gives you hives in your life (and I certainly hope your hives are metaphorical, unlike mine). I won’t pretend to have all of the answers for them, either. I don’t even have the answers for what cause mine and I always keep Benadryl cream in my bathroom to ward them off when they start… but I do know that these hives don’t last forever.

And because of that, I remain steadfast in hope. For that hope, I give thanks.

 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
-Genesis 50:20

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Washed Away

by Katie on May 4, 2017

There’s this story in the Bible – in John 4 – about a woman who lives with so much shame that she only goes to gather water when no one else is there. It’s the hottest part of the day. And one day, Jesus meets her there. He asks for a drink – which is weird, right? Because she’s a Samarian woman and all that… but he shows her that he knows her. That he gets her. That she’s had 5 husbands…and the man she’s currently with isn’t married to her. He KNOWS her. Her shame, her fears, her desperate desire to hide… and he SEES her. He really sees her, and all of that stuff doesn’t matter to him. Because he’s perfect and he’s all we need to make it through – and he knows this and is going to give this gift to her.

Jesus told the woman, after asking for a drink of water, that if she knew of God and who was asking her for water, she would stop, ask for water from him instead, and his living water would keep her from being thirsty. Without hesitation, she asks for the living water.

Why?

So she will never have to return to the well.

To the place where the women gossip. Where her fear and shame and indiscretions come to light. She wants it not to be filled with joy, not to receive salvation. She’s so far in that she can’t even begin to process what that could mean, yet. She’s in deep, guys, and she can’t see a way out. She just wants to be able to hide away where no fear can overcome her again.

But Jesus does so much more. He takes that shame and pain and blame and reveals himself to her as Christ. And he sends her with the Good News of his presence – he gives her new purpose. He takes on her darkest, deepest fears and gives her new life in him.

I’d be lying to you if I told you my life was butterflies and roses right now. I often find myself swallowed by fears. Fear of what happens next if my back and hips don’t respond to chiropractic care. Fear of if I’m living up to the expectations others have of me. Fear of if I’m doing it all right, if I’m successful enough, of…so many things.

I went swimming tonight. I haven’t gone swimming (really swimming…not just hanging with youth at a pool or something) in probably a year. I slipped into the water and I swam. I only spent maybe forty-five minutes total? Not a long workout, and I didn’t even try that hard…

But tonight, while I was swimming, my back didn’t ache unceasingly like it has for the last eight months. My mind focused solely on breathing and counting strokes. The water enveloped me, like only the promise of living water can do. I was calm. Focused only on the safety of the pool I was in and the water washing over me. Of the breath entering and leaving my body. Of how good it felt to just be alive and kicking. I was reminded that I am a child of God, loved and named and claimed by Christ through the living waters of Baptism.

For forty-five minutes, my shame and pain, my fear and doubt, they weren’t mine at all. I gave them up in favor of living. And they didn’t just sit on the edge of the pool, waiting for me to pick them up again – like a water jar, reminding me of all the people who are whispering and the heavy load these thoughts cause me to bear. They were being carried by Jesus, who loves us so much that he’ll give us all of the sips of living water we need.

Sips of strength.

Sips of dignity.

Sips of hope.

Sips of promise.

“The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.”
– John 4:25-26

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It Takes Love

January 23, 2017

It’s been a few weeks since I started my list of 101 goals in 1001 days! I can’t say that I’m getting anywhere fast, but this list is already changing things. I find myself reflecting more on the choices I make and their purpose in my life. You see, we all make choices every day. […]

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If We’re Honest

August 1, 2016

I always tell myself I’ll blog this week. And then I don’t. Thanks for showing me grace and checking in when I actually get it done! I live in a small town in Nebraska about 40 minutes from the house I grew up in. When I go to see my parents at that house, I […]

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A New Ride

March 11, 2016

Spoiler Alert: I haven’t blogged in a very long time. Whew. Got that out of the way. When I started Grace Accepted, I had one goal in mind: to share the news of what was happening while I traveled with the amazing organization Youth Encounter. I wanted to keep people up to date, let them know […]

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Remembrance

August 27, 2015

From the time I started taking communion in third grade, I loved communion bread. To say loved might be an understatement, and in my household, that was not an uncommon thought. My sister and I had this tendency of asking for our mother to bake communion bread for all of the major life events we faced. Birthdays, […]

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Not Quite a VBS…

June 19, 2015

Blogging. This thing that I tell you all that I will do and I then get busy and distracted and I don’t do it. I’m so sorry. (Not that you probably hang on my every word, but I do like to keep my promise to keep people updated, so I am truly sorry that I […]

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Random Musings from Starbucks

May 5, 2015

As I sit nursing my iced coffee in a very crowded Starbucks surrounded by my teammates, I find myself at a loss for what to write. You see, for the longest time I have found myself struggling to blog as regularly because I felt like I was writing only for myself. I often wondered who […]

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Top Five Lists: Host Home Perks

April 29, 2015

Not too long ago I posted about staying in churches. As much as I do enjoy the laid back atmosphere in a church with my team, we haven’t had host homes in over a week. Tonight, we had our first host home experience in a while. It was glorious. So here are my top five favorite […]

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Seeing the Fruit of Our Labors

April 1, 2015

One of the unique things about team ministry is that people want to know about your experiences and often you are asked questions that require thoughtful answers. To be honest, I have some cookie-cutter answers that I’m almost always prepared to give to questions like: Why did you join Captive Free? What place has been your […]

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