Sunday, August 4, 2013

What God has taught me this year

    This year has been such a whirlwind.  So much has happened in my life in such a short period of time.  Today I want to reflect back and share with you some of the important lessons that God taught me lately. Enjoy!

  • Grace is Amazing.
  • God really knows who I am. And He desires a deep, intimate, personal relationship with me.  (He truly desires one with you, too)
  • Portland is the best place in the world to live.  It has the best food, the best coffee, and the best beer. My church is pretty rad, too.
  • God created us for community.  Oftentimes it's easier to do life by yourself, covering yourself up so that the world can't see who you really are.  The truth is, though, that God desires SO MUCH MORE for your life.  He desires freedom from the covering up and rest from the hiding.  And this is found in a loving, Spirit-filled community of people who love you and want the best for you; people who aren't afraid to tell you the truth and want the same from you. This has probably been one of the most challenging lessons I've learned this year, and I'm still learning it more every day. Living openly in a community is by no means easy, but its the best way to live.
  • Live honestly and open your heart. There is so much freedom there.
  • Pursue excellence in everything you do.
  • How you treat the grocery store clerk matters.
  • How you treat your body matters.
  • What you do when no one is looking matters.
  • Loving your coworkers can make all the difference in your attitude towards work.
  • Single friends, strive for purity like your life depends upon it.
  • Unplug from social media, smart phones and technology every once in a while to get back to what really matters: family, friends, Jesus, and being present in the here and now.
  • There is so much power in forgiveness.  While you should always forgive, don't do it begrudgingly.  There is power in forgiving someone - it breaks chains and allows grace to sweep into their heart on your behalf.  Don't tell someone you forgive them unless you really mean it.  So really mean it. Thank you for teaching me this valuable lesson recently, Jordan Andlovec.
  • I am not single for myself. I'm single for those who I have the opportunity to do life with, serve and love. Thank you, Haley Cloyd, for teaching me this one.
  • A few very close friends is better than a zillion "friends".
  • Prayer is POWERFUL.  Act like God is listening when you pray to Him, because He really is.
  • Jesus is LORD.
  • I can handle a lot more on my plate than I think I can.
  • When all else fails you can always call your best friend and count on her to answer. Shout out to my best friend Rebecca Maggi on this one.
  • Folding laundry is so therapeutic for me. So is blogging.
  • Drink lots of water.  Nine times out of ten this year drinking more water has been a medical problem solver.
  • My week tends to go so much better when I take a day for Sabbath. I need to constantly remind myself of this one!
  • It is possible to control your thought life.  It's not always easy, but it is possible.
  • Love in crazy, radical ways that people won't expect.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jesus wears a Mohawk

God found my selfish heart and turned it in-side out on the MAX this past Saturday evening.

I was reflecting on the events of the day as I was heading home well past midnight. It was a great day. I was hanging out with a best friend all day in Beaverton, doing things that girls do best: pedicures/manicures, gossip and sharing hearts.  This was followed by an awesome dinner date, Voo Doo donuts for dessert and late evening drinks at Portland City Grill, overlooking the Portland skyline by night. Life had been good to me this day. 

The max stops, doors open and in walk two men.

 The first man was drugged-out and barely coherent. I would guess he was in is early fifties, but would not be surprised if it turned out that he was 5 or 10 years younger.  The drugs had taken their tole on his body. His clothes barely fit his frail frame and deep, dark circles surround his red, half-shut eyes.  His name is Joel.  The second man appeared to be in his early fourties, dressed well, slightly overweight, sporting a short, bleach-blonde Mohawk and clearly homosexual.  I share the latter descriptive label understanding the risk that is attached. I do not share my speculative judgement of his orientation as a means of degradation of his humanity, but rather to give you greater insight into the interaction I eavesdropped on and the impact it offered to me.

I did not catch the second man’s name, so I will call him Mohawk to eliminate confusion while I describe to you what happened next.

Mohawk leads Joel to a pair of seats right in front of me, close enough for me to hear their conversation even if I wasn’t trying to hear it (I was).

At first glance, they appear to be friends. One friend trying to help another get home safely after Saturday night Shenanigans downtown together. I was quickly mistaken.

Mohawk begins to patiently ask Joel questions that include:
 “Were you with any friends tonight?” (No)
“Do you have any friends?” (No)
“Is there anyone I can call who might know what your plans were tonight?” (I’m not sure)
“Do you have a phone?” (No)
“Do you know anyone’s phone number who might be able to help us?”

Joel hands Mohawk his wallet, and directs Mohawk to pull out the folded napkins with names and numbers written on them.  Mohawk calls one of the numbers.

From what I can gather, on the line with Mohawk is a relative of Joel’s – perhaps a brother or sister. Mohawk introduces himself as a stranger who had just met Joel and was trying to help him find his way home.  After a brief conversation that I could only catch one side of, the person on the other line begrudgingly agrees to pick Joel up from the Lloyd Center Max Stop. Mohawk thanks the person and hangs up the phone. Five Max stops later, Joel gets off as instructed, to be picked up. As the Max doors are trying to close, Joel haults the doors and pokes his head back in to looks at Mohawk square in the eyes and says “Thank you for helping me”.  Mohawk replies with no words – they both know they aren’t necessary at this point.  A grin emerges across his face as he responds with an affirming head-nod back at Joel.  The doors close and the max takes off. This is probably the only interaction that these two men will ever share.

For those of you who know me well, you know I couldn’t help but say something at this point to Mohawk.  I tap him on the shoulder and express as genuinely as I can that I don’t know many people who would have done what he did for Joel just now. I also share that it was a pretty incredible thing to experience.  I also made sure to thank him as well for what he did. 

Mohawk responded with gratitude and invited me into conversation to more clearly understand what had just happened.

Joel was lost and scared.  He didn’t know where he parked his van hours before and had no idea how to get home now. He reached out to a stranger (Mohawk) on the streets of downtown Portland with a cry out for help, like a child lost from his mother.  Mohawk, who was out with friends drinking that night, took the time to help this man. He didn’t have to do this, in fact, he admitted to me that he didn’t even want to. Joel had interrupted his Saturday night plans. I asked him “Then, why did you do it?”  His response was simple. He said that he would hope that someone would do the same for him if he ever needed it, so he did.  

Mohawk was Jesus to Joel that night. He showed love to someone who was broken, lost and afraid.  He proved to Joel (and to myself) that there are still good people in this world and that love does still exists.

This was a reality check for me, big time.  I tend to get so stuck in my own little world that I don’t realize the opportunities God puts before me all day to change someone’s day for the better.  Why do I automatically feel like saying “No” when a stranger asks if I can spare some change?  Of course I can. I can spare way more than that and I should.

I heard someone say recently that when you start to view everything that you’ve been given (money, gifts, time) as blessings from God, it becomes so much easier to give these things away and pass the blessing on. I want to live like that.

Granted, it’s not appropriate for a 25-year-old woman to take a drug addict’s hand and drag him onto the MAX with you in order to help him get home. We definitely need to use caution when we feel the Holy Spirit nudging at us to make a move. But we shouldn’t be afraid when we’re called to action. 

Mohawk inspired me to share his story in an effort to infect others with his same heart condition.

To not be afraid to say “yes” when asked if you can spare a dollar, or even a few.
To go out of your way for someone you don’t know.

In its simplest form, to leave someone better than you found them. Not for selfish ambition, but because you’ve been blessed so much – now its time to pass that blessing on, to pay the blessing forward.

To be Jesus to someone today.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bucket List

So I thought it would be kind of fun to publically announce my bucket list items for this year.  This will allow me to hunker down and focus in on that which I would like to accomplish for this season.


 Complete my first year at Multnomah Seminary (May 2013)

Complete P90X and Insanity all the way through

 Run another marathon, possibly two this year. Portland Marathon in October?
My initial gut response is to say that its too soon to do it, but that’s also all the more reason why I want challenge myself to do it.

Participate in SEVEN: Seven days of prayer and fasting for the city of Portland September 30-October 7th this year.

Join a tri-club and do my first triathlon by next spring/summer

 Start a blessing fund where I put $50 a month into it, and spontaneously use it as I see needs in peoples lives.

Continue Blog Ministry: writing posts once/week

Visit Becca in Virginia

 Visit friends in CA in October and January


Volunteer at homeless shelter

Missions trip this year

Run my 22 mile training run in Forrest Park.  How I’ve lived in Portland for this long and still have never explored Forrest Park is beyond me.

Explore a new restaurant in/around Portland every month with someone new
Immerse myself in Portland culture, to live on mission for God.

Send more handwritten letters.  Everyone loves to receive a good, old fashioned handwritten letter

Go vegetarian for at least a month

Go vegan for at least another month

Plan a trip for spring break

Plan a trip for 26th birthday in June/4th of July

Read the bible in a year: commit to reading the bible every day. I really want to be more disciplined in this area of life

Follow through with tattoo ideas – I have three or four ideas in mind J
Be more like Jesus in my every day life.  Live out love. See the needs in people. Be bold in my faith. Radiate God’s love. Live confidently and fearlessly in who I am in Christ.


Ok.. seatbelt is fastened tight, running shoes are double knotted. Time to start accomplishing these! Any one of you are more than welcome to join me for any of these bucket list items.  Dont everyone jump at the tattoo or skydiving line items first ;)

Let the prayers/hopes/dreams for this next year begin!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Solitude, stillness and silence

Hi friends, I'm back.

I took a nearly two month hiatus from writing and I wish I could say it was because I was off on an adventure of sorts, or swept away to a tropical island by a tall, dark and handsome.  Nope, not at all.

 In early June I ran for the hills, away from the public eye out of fear and panic that I was exposing myself "too much too soon" and afraid of what was at stake in doing so. I was experiencing burn out from the pressure of keeping my life exciting enough for these posts to keep an audience drawn in and captivated for three posts week. You cant blame a girl for being exciting, inspired and amitious about her new blogging hobby, but the ramifications were inevitable.  Writing had chewed me up in its mouth and spit me out raw, leaving me tired, anxious and feeling like a failure.

I have reassessed my goals and have come back to play in the sandbox with you all, but just once a week for now.  I believe that I can realistically hold to that as well as juggle full-time work, full-time grad school and maybe a social life in there, too.

While these past two of months made for a challenging season to say the least, I was able to grasp onto some valuable lessons that God was teaching me through trial. I would like to share these lessons learned over the course of the next few blog entries (I promise to not let two months span between again). Its on my heart today to share with you what God has been teaching me about solitude, stillness and silence.

There's something profound to be said about being still and quiet.  To shut ourselves up every once in a while and just listen.  Not necessarily to anyone or anything, but just to listen in to the present moment. It is in this stillness that I have often found God's presence clearer and hear His voice louder. By nature, we like motion and noise; we live at a ridiculously fast pace. going a million miles a minute in our minds, overdosed on caffeine and never allowing ourselves just to sit and enjoy a moment of silence. Whoa, breathe Kathryn. In fact, we have made up the term "awkward silence" to justify how silence truly makes us feel.  But what makes silence awkward and uncomfortable to us? We do.  We feel the need to push silence away because our past has collectively taught us that it is distasteful, uncomfortable and that we should not allow silence in.

God tells us a different story.

Psalm 46:7-11

The Lord Almighty is with us, the god of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breasks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, "Be Still and know that I am God;
I will exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Not only does God allow us to be still, he commands it. He is our God who can stop the chaos of the world, stops wars and breaks our weapons to emphasize the importance of pausing in all of our business, self control and independence to reflect upon the truth that HE is God and WE are not.  He is above all and is all. He is lifted high above all else. God calls us to stop, be still and know that He is who he says He is.

I love The Message translation of verses 8-10:

Attention, all!  See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."

That certainly convicts my heart when I read it. It forces me to really check myself: Am I so busy that I forget to acknowledge God throughout the day? What is more important than my God who has provided the food in my stomach and the shelter above my head? Or put in other words, what am I making more important than God? I admit that there are many days that it isnt until Im laying my head down for sleep that I think to give acknowledgement to my Creator. What is that?? Admitting that out loud makes me nervous, so I am trusting that you're not judging me upon it :) What is that though?! Simply put, that is the traffic of our lives - the business, chaos and hyperindependence that we live in - that we put above our God.

But God graciously calls us out of that, to live set apart. The truth that keeps coming up in various conversations lately is that "We are in this world but we are not of this world" as laid out in John 17:14.  If we believe that, it should cause us to live differently.  What does different look like? For me, it looks like taking moments to be still and stand in awe of Him. To lay aside agendas and plans and bask in His Glory. To acknowledge that He is God and I am not;  that He is worth our time, our energy, and even our silence. And that type of silence, my friends, is not the awkward kind.

I pray that this lesson comes to you gift-wrapped exactly as you need it to be today. I am hopeful that it hits your heart and stops you in your tracks a bit, as it did for me. I love you all and it feel so good to be back. :)



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stand Up

I've been on a country music kick lately.  There's just something in the heartfelt lyrics that I've been drawn to lately. This song in particular stopped me in my tracks today..

 Stand Up

All the lonely people crying
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken hearted

Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

There’s a comfort, there’s a healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming; can you feel it?
Calling us into a new tomorrow

Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us

Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?
Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up?
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

I love this song and the message it screams.  It encourages me to get up and do something. I feel like God has been putting this in my heart alot lately - to just get moving on something; anything.  Its continuously like a cry of desperation from God in my heart. A rally cry for a different tomorrow.  Its too easy to think that we, individually, cannot make much change. I will not settle for that thought. I believe we can and will make a difference in this generation, but we have to start somewhere and take it one step, one day at a time.

Humor me for a minute and check out this website to Matthew 25:36 Ministries.  Its founded and ran single-handedly by an amazing woman named Kim out of her home in the East Bay Area, CA. God has placed in her a specific calling to minister to prison inmates through hand written letters from followers of Jesus who want to share love.  I stumbled upon her ministry and the volunteer opportunity to join her in this last year.  This is how I met Robert, the inmate I currently write to.  He's ministered more to me than he knows and has blessed my life beyond words. His story is crazy, heartwrenching and has God written all over it.  With his permission, I would love to share it with you all one day.

Dont worry, this ministry is totally safe.  You dont share your perosnal information with them and Kim has set up strict guidelines that each writer (inmates included) must commit to abide by to maintain the heart behind this ministry. I, personally, have set up a local PO Box that I only use to send/receive letters to Robert. 

 In the least, I encourage you to check out the website and if your heart is stirred up by what God is doing through this ministry, send her an email for more information or to get linked with an inmate.  You can chose to write to an inmate of faith or who doesn't yet know the love of God.  Obviously, it would be more challenging to write to an unsaved inmate.  Pray on it.  If not this ministry, I urge you to stand up and get involved in God's kingdom work in some different way this season.

Thanks for always tuning into my crazy rants :)


Friday, June 1, 2012


A good friend of mine gave me a gift last night that inspired today's posting.  She gave me a  wall decal with a quote from Emily Dickinson written on it:

Dwell in Possibiliites
For those of you who are wondering, it isn't just a random gift with a random quote on it that happened to bless me enough to blog about.  She saw this and remembered back to an activity that we were asked to do at our women's retreat weekend at cannon beach.  We walked out to the beach and were asked to think of a word or phrase that best describes the chapter of life that you are currently living in. 

I thought long and hard. I etched a few things in the sand, then would quickly brush it away.  Finally, I decided to draw a picture of a girl in a mirror with the word "dwell" written in the mirror.  I chose this because I feel that in this season, God is constantly reminding me to fix my eyes on Him and no where else and dwell in that. Dig into the Word, keep Him as my number one and to not concern myself so much about the little things. I find myself worrying way too much about who my husband will be and when I will get married. About what I will be doing in a year, 5 years, 10.  Im not the woman I was - Ive gotten much better about not worrying about the future, but I'm not yet where I'd like to be. Add up every minute spent dwelling in those things and that's a whole lotta wasted time that could and should be devoted to my Father and what really matters in this moment.

I can simply repent and move forward. Every time I am reminded of that word, I pray that it inspires me to take action on fixing my eyes on God and living today on purpose. Spending quality time with God, with friends, with family. Sharing meaningful God-centered conversations, laughing with my best friends and meeting new people. Doing things that make me happy. I believe that He wants me to remember to do those things more in this season.

And now I have a wall decal to help remind me to do that more and more. :) You are amazing, Sierra!

What word would best describe this season of your life, and what are you doing about it?  

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
    1 For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
   2 A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.
   3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.
   4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.
   5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
   6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.
   7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
   8 A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace.

   9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Happy Friday,


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Freedom, Justice and Bold Faith

This picture convicts my heart bigtime today.

How many years have I let this holiday pass without giving much thought to the real reason to why we get Monday off at the end of every May?  Many years.  More years than I want to admit to you.

This picture displays the harsh reality of the "holiday".  See, I even feel guilty calling it a holiday when I look at this.  Wives are husbandless, husbands are wiveless and children are fatherless or motherless because of those who put their life in harm's way so that we can live without having to think twice about our freedom in this country.

Im convicted because I dont often think about the blessing that I live in every day because of what these men and women have died for. One easy example would be that I can post this blog, full of my heart's openness with absolutely no fear of what someone might think. I dont worry about being arrested or even worse because of my public display of faith. Praise God.

We can go to college, we can find a job, we can accomplish basically whatever our heart's desire. There's no question in my mind that we have the freedom now to accomplish all of these things and much more.  Imagine with me for a moment how different our lives would be without this freedom.  Imagine having the dream of becoming something that everyone told you would never happen. Imagine living within the confines of what others told you was acceptable. Imagine being sold in slavery and taken away from your loved ones and everything that you know.

I lift my head, raise my hands and give thanks today for the gift of freedom that we have been given.  I thank God for those men and women who are not here today to enjoy what all they have laid down their lives for.  I am incredibly grateful, but also know that the job is not finished. Injustice is all around us: we live in a world where too many children will go to bed starving tonight, sex trafficking is currently victimizing 27 million and slavery is still a true story. 

I know that many more innocent lives will be taken in order for these sort of kingdom-sized changes to be made. That's the honest reality of the phrase "freedom isnt free".  But I am thankful to God for those who's holy discontent include these injustices to the point of action; for those who are not willing to settle until something is changed even if that means their lives are at risk.  The heart condition of bold faith that these folks share is beautiful and admirable to me. I raise my glass to them today.

Happy Memorial Day!