Grieving and Freedom

Five days after Thanksgiving 2020, my grandma died. And I haven’t been the same since.

In 2019, I spent my last summer at SIL-UND never to return. Not because I don’t want to, but because I cannot. It doesn’t exist anymore.

I have wanted to have a murder mystery themed party since 2012. I had one planned for New Years Eve 2020. 2 days before the 31st, everyone except one person had cancelled, and so I postponed the event. It did not happen. And still has not happened.

Loss. Some small. Some significant. Some perhaps silly. Some perhaps soul-crushing.

I grieve these things. Sometimes, I sit and prepare my heart, mind, soul, and body to come before the Lord and then I just start crying. I can’t ask him the things I wanted, praise his name, fully bask in his goodness, because I am overcome with tears. When I’m not in his presence, I’m able to forget that I mourn these things. But when I’m still, they all come flooding in.

Sometimes I get mad at my grandma. “Why don’t she write?” I get mad at the tree across the street. It was a beautiful color last fall and every time I saw it I thought to myself, I should go get some paper and write to my grandma about how beautiful it is. But I didn’t. And now it’s too late. And the tree is still there, mocking me.

I am grieving. I am not just grieving the loss of my grandma, but all the loss I suffered this year, last year and and the years before that. The New Year’s Eve party is just one example. I lost concerts, trips, movie premiers, family time, people’s faces, hugs, being around children. I lost ceremonies, dishes, patience, holiday parties, eating together, trust. I’m sure you lost so much of these things, too, and more.

I am reminded of one thing: The Enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But Jesus came so I could have life and have it to the full.

With all the things I have lost; with all the turmoil my country, my people, my loved ones are going through; with all the grieving I know one thing – Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. Jesus grieves with those who are grieving. Jesus wept. I have wept countless times, and Jesus has wept countless and one times.

You know what I’ve come to decide, though? Freedom is worth it.

Jesus came to set the captives free. It is for freedom that we have been set free.

Though there is a battle for your heart, though the road is long and winding, though the grievances seem extensive, Freedom is worth it.

Though safety is on the line, though the river is wide, though the demons are close enough that you need to use your sword, Freedom is worth it.

Though your armor seems loose, though your feet are tired, though night is falling, Freedom is worth it.

Freedom is worth it.

Freedom is a life in Christ. Freedom is endless rejoicing with your Father. Freedom is never fearing you will lose a battle. Freedom is knowing you will always be provided for. Freedom is a lavishing of gifts from the Creator of all things. Freedom is someone to hold your hand when you’re crying. Freedom is the river shrinking, the road straightening, the armor tightening, the sun rising, the demons fleeing, the loss restoring, the King declaring, “YOU ARE MINE!”

Freedom is here! And Freedom is yours. Take it. Accept it.

Can you grieve? Of course. Jesus grieves with you. But remember, this road, it’s not over. The end is in the coming Kingdom where there will be endless amounts of rejoicing, praising, and living. Take your freedom, pick up your sword, and fight for your heart, because, my dear friends, Jesus is worth it.

The Respite Room

“Wait, what?” Both of our chins were metaphorically on our chests as our third roommate told us about her plans. “You’re getting married next week and are, therefore, moving out? Ok, cool. Cool cool cool cool cool cool cool.”

You see, we had a plan. We all decided September 2020 that we were all going to live at Sundrop Cottage all 2021 long. This roommate even sent this gif. Hilarious. And Serious.

So, you can imagine our surprise when the end of January 2021 comes with this announcement. Now, we all decided that getting married is a perfectly acceptable reason for moving out and we are happy for her. There’s no malice here. We’re not upset in the slightest.

However, there is now going to be only two of us living and paying for a place that three of us used to live and pay. So, I only minorly started to freak out. But Jesus is good. My remaining roommate and I decide to spend the weekend praying about what God wants to do with the room. “Ok, we’re gonna pray about it and on Sunday we’re gonna get together and talk about what Jesus told us, deal?” “Deal.”

Friday night, I’m sitting at a Listening Party with the creative community group at my church and I’m called out. And so I start to repent. “Jesus, I’m sorry for trying to take control over everything. I’m sorry for doing things on my own. I’m sorry for freaking out and worrying about this room. And I give it all to you. I give you the room. I give you the whole house. Whatever you want to do with it, with me, let’s do it. Anything you want. Anytime you want. I don’t want control. Help me remember that. But use this house for your glory. I bring it under the authority of Jesus and I bring it back to the Kingdom so you can rule. Rule the house, rule my life.” Then I hear him say that it should be an interim room. We shouldn’t get a full time roommate, but leave it open for people to come in and out that need a place to feel closer to Him. Need a place of respite. Need a place until their permanent place opens up.

“Ok, but how are we going to pay for it? They might not have much money if they’re transitioning, so we could maybe reduce the amount we ask them to pay, like half of rent and utilities…”
“Kate…”
“Ok, we could drop utilities.”
“Kate…”
“Ok, idea…”
“Kate, what about my ideas?”

“What’s your idea?”
“Have them ask me what to give towards the room.”
*gulp* “Uh, yeah. Ok… Good idea… we’ll do that… But it’s only Friday, I need Michel to hear the same thing…”

Guess what. Michel heard the same thing.

So, here we are, preparing a room for people seeking Jesus to stay in while they’re looking for a permanent place. We’re setting up the room fully furnished so that someone doesn’t need things to live. They don’t have to worry about where they’re gonna rest and restore. We have the place, we have the stuff, we have the kitchen space, we have the room, and we have the Holy Spirit dwelling here.

I posted about the room in my creative community’s facebook group and we’ve already had two inquiries that we’re praying about! People need the room. They need the Jesus. They need, and they’re seeking, and they’re preparing. Jesus will pour, and overflow. We pray the room glorifies Jesus. Worships the King. And brings all residents one step closer to the Kingdom.

Maybe something in this blog sparked something in you and you want to help the Respite Room. There are a few ways, you could give a financial gift to help pay rent/utilities for the Respite Room. If this interests you, you can message me for the cost for a month’s rent.

Another way you could help are by providing things for the Room itself. We’ve made an Amazon wish list of things we need for the room. We’re hoping to have the room ready by March 1, so these are somewhat urgent needs. Click here to see the list. There are practical things on this list that the room really needs – like sheets and pillows. But there are also one or two fun things – like throw pillows and wall decor.

The next way would be a washer/dryer. Our roommate who is moving out owns the washer/dryer and she’s taking them with her. So, we’re fresh out. And soon noses are going to start to suffer, haha. If you have one you’d like to donate, let me know and let’s work something out! If you want to buy us one, let me know and let’s work something out!

This roommate also owns the decent kitchen-sized fridge. We own one, but it’s shorter than me. You might recall reading about it in my God-led weekend blog. In this blog I explain how this fridge is a good size for maybe 2 people, but not three, so we ultimately got a larger one. I mean, look at it.

So funny. And gosh my hair was short then. You should see it now! Anyway, tangent. This fridge will be fine with me and Michel. But when we get a third person, things could be tight. So, maybe you have a spare mini fridge we could put in the Respite Room? Maybe you have a garage fridge you want to get rid of? Maybe you just have a little freezer that’s taking up space? We’d take any of those.

Finally, maybe you want to stay in the Respite Room. The idea of a place to escape to for a while and hang out with Jesus is the most appealing thing to you right now and you can’t wait. Let’s talk! Let’s pray about it! And let’s get you time in the room!

The urge to write

A couple weeks ago, I was thinking, “It’s kinda crazy that I wrote this book.” And as I’m sitting in my thinking, all of these memories start coming back to me.

I remember siting in my grandpa’s oversized recliner with my copy of Amber Brown Sees Red and my spiral bound notebook. I sit there, reading, yes, but mostly copying the book into my notebook. “I’m writing a book,” I would tell the people who asked me what I was doing.

A few years later, I’m sitting in the fort that my little sister and I built on our bottom bunk. We have our dolls and we have the “kitchen” and the “bedrooms.” I have my spiral bound notebook with the colt on the cover and my sister has her art set. As we play, I start writing down what we’re doing in chapter book form. My sister draws what we’re playing. I still have that unfinished book. It’s hilarious. We call our older sister our “annoying neighbor.” Classic.

A few years later, in art class, we have an assignment – illustrate your own children’s book. I come up with a charming story about a little girl who gets chickenpox. (Fun fact, this book is the only reason I ever served a detention. However, I did not earn said detention. That’s a “fun” story for another time.) I gave this book to my mother and I’m sure she still has it somewhere. I need to find it.

A few years go by and a story idea comes to me. I start writing some things down. Outlines, notes, character development. But that’s still sitting as a bunch of notes on my computer.

A few year more go by and I’ve changed the lyrics to The Farmer in the Dell to entertain my first cousins once removed on a car ride. One 1st cousin once removed, however, finds an original copy of the Farmer in the Dell and then proceeds to tell me that my version is wrong because he found another version in a book. So, I ask a friend to draw me some illustrations and I print a copy of my version of the Farmer in the Dell and give it to my 1st cousin once removed for Christmas. He looks at me and says, “Oh. I had no idea.” Hilarious and so worth it.

Then, a couple years later, I have an idea for a handshape book. I haven’t ever seen anything like it, especially not for children. And there’s a little girl in my life that I think would really like it. So, I plan to do the same thing I did with The Farmer in the Dell. Print it on Shutterfly and give her a copy. But then I think, what if I made it available for more people? And, thus, My First ASL Handshape Book was born. (Available now on Amazon.com.) My first publication.

And now, two years later, I’ve written another book: This is Your Story. And not a simple picture book, but a full on chapter book. With 21 chapters. And it’s not fiction, but it is entertaining. And what’s even crazier, I feel Jesus told me to write this one. And that’s where I was a couple week’s ago thinking, “It’s kinda crazy that I wrote this book.” You see, Jesus never told me to write any of the other books. Those all seemed like fun little projects that I was doing for myself, a teacher, or a little kid I know. But I wrote this because Jesus told me to. And what’s crazier – I don’t really feel like I wrote it. I was listening to a sermon and the man was talking about a book he had just written. He said, “Do you know why my name is on this book? It’s just because I’m the first person who got to read it. I didn’t write it; God wrote it.” And I felt seen. That’s exactly how I feel.

So, I like writing. 50+ blogs posts will tell you that. The little girl sitting in her grandpa’s recliner would tell you that. And the books I wrote “just for fun” would tell you that.

But I get my urge to write from Jesus. He stirred it up inside of me when I was little and he’s been cultivating it ever since. That’s what he was reminding me of when all these memories came to me. “Kate, you’ve been preparing for this your whole life.” Fun projects, little side creative pockets, new inspirations all leading up to the biggest thing I’ve ever written… and not written.

I hope you get the chance to read it. It’s really good. I can say that, because I don’t feel like I wrote it.

Giving away everything

When you give Jesus everything, what things do you list?

There are the classics: heat, mind, soul, body, strength, will.

Then the tangibles: My family, my work, my house, my car, etc.

I tend to also add the things that I know he’ll use best: my talents, skills, abilities, passions, dreams.

But that’s not everything, is it? I’ve been leaving off an important list of items.

I’m in church yesterday and I’m on my knees and I’m giving him everything. TBH, I haven’t felt the closest to Jesus the past couple weeks. Like, we’re not on the outs or anything, I just haven’t felt his presence that closely. And when you aren’t in the presence, you start to forget who you are. You start to believe lies easier. You start to think that feeling in a funk is normal. But yesterday morning, I feel him and I start to repent. “God, I need you. I love you. I give you everything. I’m sorry I’ve been keeping things for myself. I’m sorry I’ve been selfish. Forgive me. I give you my year, I give you my new project, I give you my skills, my talents, my abilities.” And then I’m hit with something I haven’t felt before – the realization that my list isn’t complete. And I start a new list I’ve never given him before.

“I give you my failures. I give you my weakness. I give you my inabilities. I give you the things I suck at. Oh, God, I give you everything.”

It’s good to give him the things I can do. But I want to be intimate with God. I want him to know me and to know him better than anyone else. And I can’t continue to keep my weaknesses a “secret” from him, to withhold them and pretend to think that I’ve let him all the way in. I can’t say, “You can have everything I’m good at, but let’s just all ignore the stuff I’m bad at, mmmkay?” That’s not how this works.

We’re starting a new project together. We’re starting a new year together. I have no clue what I’m doing. The sooner I admit that, the easier we’ll be able to work together. I don’t have to have a clue what I’m doing. God knows. And he’ll tell me. Especially when I ask him, pursue him, seek his guidance, and let him lead by giving him EVERYTHING.

Will you join me in giving God everything?

How to be apart

Last week, I shared tips and trainings on how to be together. But I know that some of you won’t get that opportunity this year, so I thought I would give those of you who can’t be where you want to be some tips on how to be apart.

If this is your first time (or first year) in a situation like this, maybe it will help you realize what your international missionary friends go through over the holidays – especially your single friends. It can be hard to be away from family, friends, familiarity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the holiday.

1. Bring an old tradition

Even if you can’t eat your chili and cinnamon rolls with the family, you can still eat the chili and cinnamon rolls. Take pics and share with the family. It does help.

2. Make a new tradition

Have you ever seen This is Us? Their Thanksgiving tradition is crazy because of the one year that they weren’t able to make it to their extended family’s house. It was on the edge of becoming the worst, but their dad didn’t let that happen. He started new traditions that lasted well into the children’s adulthood. You don’t have to go crazy, but you can start a new tradition that is special to you. Pick a new movie to watch on this holiday. Cook a new staple food. Do a craft. Go on a long walk. The possibilities are endless. Just pick something special to you.

3. Rejoice

This is the first time you get to do whatever the heck you want. That’s a reason to celebrate. You don’t want brussels sprouts? Don’t cook brussels sprouts. (Unless the tradition you want to keep is refusing to eat the brussels sprouts.) You want to sleep in? Sleep in! You want to wake up early and start cooking? Wake up early! This is your year. Your holiday. Your time. Rejoice and be glad in it. Yes, it can be sad to be away from people, but you can have a defiant joy. Don’t let the Enemy take that away from you.

4. Call them

You can’t be physically with them on the day, but you can call them. I had a sister who lived across the ocean for 6 years. I have family all over the U.S. I recently moved to another state. We’ve had several holidays, several celebrations, several events where we weren’t together. And you know what we did and loved? We called each other. We video called and we talked. It’s never a nuisance. It’s never unwanted. It’s never annoying. Your family loves you and they miss you just as much as you miss them. So, call them.

5. invite Jesus

He’s the best party guest. He always shows up. He always brings a good time. He never disappoints.

How to be together

It’s been a while. We haven’t really hung out that much. And now we’re faced with a family holiday and you might being seeing people again for the first time in months. So, I thought I would take a minute and give you some tips to get ready to be together with people again.

1. Exercise the rest of your fingers

So, you’ve probably spent a lot of time on your phone lately, I know I have. So, my thumb muscles are beyond compare, but people might want to shake my hand when I see them again. In order to keep my other fingers from despair, I’m going to start working out the rest of my fingers. Probably by typing on my computer…

2. Practice your smile

It might have been a while since you’ve seen anyone outside of your house without a mask on. So, you might want to practice smiling again. I know I walk around the house with as little energy as possible, so I don’t waste my time raising the sides of my lips. So, I’ll spend a couple minutes a day looking at the mirror remembering what it looks like to be friendly and not creepy…

3. Repeat after me – “That’s interesting. Have you seen this cat video?”

Changing the topic – A technique I’ve mastered over the last few months. Starting with “that’s interesting” keep the relationship from falling apart and gives you a way to respectfully not blow your top. And something funny that you both can appreciate builds the relationship around things that are what all strong relationships are built on – divergence. Before you head to your family vacation or event, bookmark a few videos on your phone so you’re ready when the topic pulls around to something you’d rather avoid.

4. Nostalgia

Pop in an old movie that you all liked from your childhood and come prepared to quote and replay scenes. If you’re lucky, your cousins have honed their acting skills while they’ve been home the past couple months and you can act it all out together.

5. Remember to laugh

Hopefully, you caught on that this was satire. We could all use a good laugh now and then and your upcoming family event is the perfect place to practice. Now, I don’t suggest you laugh in someone’s face when they’re clearly not being funny… but walk in with a laugh in mind and I think you’ll make it through ok.

2021 goals

2021 is quickly and slowly approaching. Anyone else feel that way? I know I do. So I’ve been doing some things to prepare for when the time comes. I feel Jesus told me to start doing new and exciting things in 2021, so I’m working to make them happen.

I have a bad habit of hearing from God, get excited about it, and then let some time pass and lose my enthusiasm. But, I don’t want that to happen this time. God has asked me to do important work, and I want to be a good steward of the gifts he’s given me.

So, in order to make sure that I’m working towards the project and dream God has in store for me, I’ve written down two goals for 2021. While I’ll still be working part time for DOOR (and loving every minute of it), I’ll also have time for these other projects.

These goals might not take the whole year. That’s ok. I don’t need to set new goals yet, because God hasn’t told me what new goals to set. These both came from Jesus, so I believe in them. And I want to have space when Jesus tells me what the next thing is.

So, without further ado, my goals for 2021:

1. Adapt my Children’s Book into ASL

Did you know I wrote a book this year? I did. One day in January, I was driving home in some heavy traffic and all of a sudden, images and texts and outlines and inspiration start flying through my mind. Jesus was revealing to me what he wanted this book to be about. He wanted me to write for children so they could understand hard concepts that some adults don’t know. He wanted me to share with them about prayer, angels, demons, and their role in the His story. And he wanted me to do it in a sign language so Deaf kids could read it, too.

I was like, “This is great, but I’m in the car!” I got home as fast as I could and started writing down everything I saw and heard.

Over the next several months, I would be listening to a sermon, friend, book, nature and a sentence would hit and I couldn’t drop the sentence. I just replayed it over and over in my mind until I would come sit at the computer and write it out. And before I knew it, there would be a whole page written down that I couldn’t remember what I said. I would go back and read it and say, “Oh yeah, that’s good.” I don’t boast in myself, but I boast in Jesus Christ – he inspired it all. Breathed it all into life.

Now, you can buy the English version of this book! But it’s not done. It was always intended to be in ASL (American Sign Language). So, next year, I’m going to start adapting the English version into ASL. I plan to outline, write, edit and hopefully record. I’ll also start researching ways to publish the material. Since it will be in a video format, the normal print publishing streams aren’t really an option. We’ll see how God makes the way.

2. Start a YouTube Channel

I’ve had a YouTube channel in the past. In fact, it’s still there; you can do watch my 2.5 years of weekly posts about my thoughts and reactions to life. The first year is actually responses to reading the Bible in a Year with my church family.

Anyway, this channel was in English. Now, I feel God calling me to make a channel in ASL. I have several topics I want to talk about in ASL: prayer, forgiveness, the heart, your story, soul ties, aspects of Jesus, the coming kingdom, etc.

This is going to be a big project. A weekly teaching video actually takes a lot of dedication, studying, editing, learning, and time. But these concepts aren’t easily accessible in other languages, especially signed languages. And I have the unique opportunity to take what I’ve been learning over years and put it into a new language to teach others. These ideas and concepts have helped me in more ways than I can tell you hear, and I want to share them with other.

You know, there is a way things work. And everyone is worthy of learning about it.

So, those are my two goals for 2021. Pipe dream or undercutting it? I’m not sure, but the same power that brought Jesus Christ back from the dead lives inside of me. So, I will not fear because I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If you want to get a copy of my book, click here to find it on Amazon.

If you want to watch my English YouTube channel, click here.

What are some of your 2021 goals? Let me know in the comments below!

4 ways to stay sane

Ever feel like you’re going crazy? Ever feel like you have no idea what’s going on? Ever feel like the world is flip-turned upside down? Just me? That’s cool. But I’ve come to find some ways to help me turn my life right-side up without having to do anything extreme. In fact, these are all things I can do everyday – even all four in one day!

1. get outside

You don’t have to do anything crazy while you’re out there, but think about it, when was the last time you spent real time outside? With the invention of cars, office buildings, and houses, you spend up to like 80% of your time inside surrounded by fake, dead things. Your computer and phone are made of plastic. Your couch and mattress are probably synthetic. Where are real and alive things? Outside. Trees, birds, grass (or weeds), squirrels, rocks, dirt, opossums, flowers. And all of these things show you something about Jesus. He’s out there, in your back yard. In the breeze, in the stillness, in the noise, in the beauty, in the humor. One time, I watched my backyard squirrels running across the power lines. The first squirrel runs a bit and stops suddenly while the second squirrel runs into the rear-end of the first squirrel. Hilarious. What good for my soul.

2. read more books

Last year’s new year’s resolution was to read a book a month. I tend to keep going with things if they work, so this year, I kept reading at least a book a month. So far, I’ve read two or three or four, one time six books a month! It’s been great. My reading speed has gone up, I love getting lost in stories, I love revisiting old friends in books I’ve read before. I love that I get done with a chapter and my brain doesn’t feel fried. Read a book instead of watching tv. Read a book instead of scrolling social media. Read a book instead of reading the news. Read a book outside! and feel Jesus in the book.

2.5 the library!

Pro-tip. I got a library card and it’s been the best! I can feed my longing to read without having to pay the price! I actually don’t need to have the Belle library, especially when I’m on a Tiana budget.

3. get off social media

I hinted at this in the book reading category, but seriously, it’s so good. My church down here did a social media fast in August and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. 3 whole weeks without any social media or digital entertainment. (The month I read 6 books.) I wasn’t angry every day with people I haven’t seen in months. I found plenty to do without having my phone glued to my hand. I found that I didn’t know about political or social uproars and it was a BLESSING. You don’t have to give it up, but you can definitely use it less.

4. slow down

Breathe. Take a breath. Go outside and just breathe. Pick up a book and don’t zoom through it, take your time. Don’t speed on the highway, notice what’s around you. (Or maybe, don’t take the highway.) Just slow down, walk, don’t run. Now I understand, I feel the need – the need for speed. I have a lead foot. I have a mile a minute brain. I have short legs and a quick pace. But why do I have those things? Because the world is telling me to. Not because I want to. Not because they’re helpful. Not because I actually have to get so much done. But because of the rat race the world has turned into. That’s why I feel the need to go fast. That’s why I feel like I can’t sit still. That’s why I feel guilty when I don’t respond to a text immediately. That’s why I feel compelled to text instead of call. That’s why I don’t have time to shop (just like the Wedding Planner). So, slow down and enjoy what’s happening around you.

I’ve started incorporating these into my every day life, especially the slowing down and I can’t tell you how much good it’s done for me. Give ’em a good old college try and let me know if they worked for you! And if you have any tips on how to stay sane, let me know!

P.S. A great book for reading more on this topic is Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. You can get a copy by clicking here or maybe at your local library!

A (not so) new vision

Jesus says “Jump” and I say, “How high?”

When I was a kid, my mother would tell me, “When I say, ‘jump,’ you say, ‘how high?’ You don’t question me or contradict me. You just jump.” I’ve taken that attitude into my walk with Jesus. I don’t want to question him or doubt him, I just want to say, “How high?” And this small act has led to so much life, it would take a series of books to write it all down. But let’s start with the most recent encounter.

A few weeks ago, I posted about how my life journey is changing yet again. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I get to put more time and energy into my creative passions, while still reaching the lost. While I’m going part time with DOOR, I’ll be working on other projects to teach a firm foundation in Jesus, life, and love. So, I’ve written down a vision that I think helps explain this new ministry.

“Pursue Jesus and share his love with the Deaf so they know the value God sees in their hearts.”

This has pretty much always been my vision, but now it’s official. I’m declaring it to you so you can help keep me accountable. You can help make this vision always be my reality. You can pray that this vision is upheld and God is always the center of everything I do.

God said to jump into this new mission, ministry, vision. And I said, “Let’s do it.”

What’s God asking you to jump into?

joint heirs

I recently had an epiphany. It’s a pretty good one, so I’ll share it with you.

I was at a Jesus-follower event chatting with a new friend. Another new friend comes up to us, and we chat for a minute. As she walks away, the first friend says, “She seems so familiar to me, but I don’t know who she reminds me of.”

We’re all new to each other, never really met before, but there’s a connection there.

And then it hit me. “Let them be one as we are one.” If we’re one, then of course she feels familiar. Of course we feel like we already know each other. We’re a part of the same vine.

We were created for unity. We were graced with royalty. We are joint heirs with Jesus. Which means we’re joint heirs with each other. Which means we can meet each other and feel connected to each other, when we’re connected to the vine that gives us all life.

Well, there it is. Short and sweet, but powerful.