Friday, October 31, 2014

Life Through the Lens

Life in Haiti for ten days can change a person. But only through the work of the Holy Spirit. And since we arrived back in the states, life has been a tad bit different/crazy/weird/good. I just can't explain it. Maybe one of these days I will try but all I can say is that God used Haiti to peel back the scales from our eyes that the world has slowly blinded us with. We have a clearer (but not yet perfect) view of truth & our life here on earth. The trip reminded me that the united states is not my home. Tennessee isn't my home and neither is Haiti. Heaven is my home and I am a messenger of Jesus Christ just passing through. With that said, I want to give you a little peek into our life lately through a lens because this mind is too preoccupied with those beloved kids in Haiti to think of anything else for more than thirty minutes...
 After my glasses literally broke in half, I finally ordered some new specks right before our Haiti trip.

Our team praying over the new land that one day the orphanage will go on. God created Haiti so beautifully. This was, hands down, the prettiest place I had ever been. But pray for them. They haven't had rain in years.

Oh, this sweet baby. God grew my heart ten times after snuggling and loving on this tiny newborn. I'm excited for the day that we either have one of our own or are able to adopt a baby! Whatever God has planned...


This was our first view of Haiti. An amazing sunset! My first thoughts, "I can't wait to get to heaven".

Our first time experiencing Haitian Sundays. Worship in Creole, the most precious children, and lots of good food afterwards!
Now that we are back in the states, we are going a little bit crazy! We miss Haiti but we are committed to serving and enjoying life wherever God leads us. Oh, and we enjoyed our first Starbucks in a while!
How has your life been lately?
Linking up with:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We are back from HAITI!

Honestly, I don't know where to start. I am forcing myself to get on here and give you all a little update about our mission trip to Haiti but it has been so hard to express the change, the emotions, the feelings, the truth that has so deeply transformed us. God is powerful.
The scripture that God used to confirm to us that He was calling us to go to Haiti was this one:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
I had no idea that God would change my heart so drastically in just ten days. As many of you know, I was fighting a strong battle against the enemy before we took off on this mission trip. It seemed like every time I turned around, something else was going wrong. Or so I thought. I am so thankful that I experienced this trial because I realized in the midst of confusion and doubt that... I am in need of so much more faith in God, the enemy does NOT want us serving God, and that our walk with Christ isn't mean to be easy.
As soon as the plane touched down in Haiti, I felt the Awesome Presence of God. I can't explain it but I knew then and there that God had in fact led us to this moment.
As soon as we arrived in the no-air-conditioned, no running water, mosquito-infested stay for the night, I knew that it was going to be a big adventure.
As soon as we arrived at the orphanage and I saw the eyes and sweet frames of each child, I knew that I was looking in the precious eyes of God's children.
As soon as we started talking with them, loving on them, serving them, and showing Christ's love to them, I knew that I was right where I was meant to be.
God has and still is doing mighty things in my heart and in the heart of my husband.
We saw extreme poverty, hunger, famine, hurt, pain, darkness. But more than that we saw selfless servants, pure and precious faces, God's beautiful and vast country, beautiful oceans and a sunrise worth a trillion dollars. We heard God whisper and His people praising. We saw Jesus there in the midst of those thousands of people. We saw love.
It's hard to be back in the States. My husband and I have cried and prayed and cried some more. I catch myself daydreaming about that place and those children almost hourly. We aren't sure where God will be leading us but we know that He has called us to go and serve Him.
 So whether that be in Haiti, right here in Tennessee, or across the Atlantic, we are praying that we will always have open eyes, open hearts, and a bag packed and ready to go.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my experiences and pictures with you all. Get ready to hear and see the awesome work of God! I am so thankful for each one of you who prayed for me, my husband, and our team while we were in Haiti serving our awesome God. He sure is so good.
I am linking up with Madison and Rachel for Community Brew -&- Jenni and Martha Kate for Wednesday's Words.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

He Makes All Things Beautiful

God cares so much about you. More than you will ever comprehend.
A couple of weeks ago, I was having another bad-mood morning. I opened my bible in desperation to get out of that rut. The maroon marker was holding my spot in Psalms and I flipped there to soar back in time to David's days. I love his honest and raw heart. Sometimes I can quiet my mind for a minute and worship with him as He declares the goodness of God and I can relate to his brokenness when he pleas with the King of kings to rescue him.
This morning as I was in my mess of self, I started to read Psalm 47. God sure knows how to make you smile, even when you don't want to.
"Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth."
And that was only the first two verses! God can rejuvenate our souls if we are open and honest with Him about the mess we find ourselves in. Just four chapters earlier, David was pleading with God to deliver him from the hands of the enemy. His soul was downcast & he was in mourning. But not anymore. Whether it is straight up sin we find ourselves tangled in, a bad mood like I have been dealing with this week, or complete despair wondering where God is in our lives, Be real with Him and He will prove to be GOOD. And PRESENT. And FOR US.
One morning, as I was reading this chapter, I had Pandora humming in the background. I was just telling my Heavenly Father how much of a mess I am when I heard this..
"I am a sinner
If it's not one thing it's another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
You are the Savior
And you take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
God reminded me through the song "Brokenness Aside" by All Sons & Daughters that He takes my brokenness and makes it beauty. I am beautiful in His eyes. He understands and gets my mess but He never leaves me in it. In His presence, when I chose to lay aside my feelings and bask in His glory even for a minute, He transforms me into beauty. And in an instant, my bad mood can be lifted. Circumstances may not change for a while if ever, but God can change our heart so completely, that we end up being beautiful during our mess.
God cares about us. And He is ready & willing to turn our brokenness, our bad attitudes, selfish motives, fearful thoughts, insecurity, and all of our faults into beauty!
So, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lessons from a Puppy

My husband and I have had the privilege of owning a sweet puppy for almost a year now. Although I have threatened to get rid of her multiple times, yelled at her {neighbors think I'm crazy}, & have shed tears over her, she is certainly growing on us. We consider her our little big baby. Penelope, or Penny for short, has taught me many things in this almost-one-year of having her with us.
- Penny has taught me to accept imperfection. Our dog sheds. Like so much so that we could make another dog out of all the fur that she sheds daily. She also splashes water all over the floor when she is drinking out of her bowl. My house isn't picture-perfect 24/7 and I have learned to be okay with that. I am in NO way saying that I have accepted the mess but it's been good for me to accept the fact that sometimes there will be a couple of treats on the floor & other times your door frame will be torn to shreds. Fix it & move on. Because I know that when kids come, that'll be a different story. Thanks Penny for teaching me this lesson beforehand.
- Penny has taught me to love God's creation. Seeing all of her quirks, her attitude, & the way she thinks makes me stand in awe of God. He is so amazing for making such sweet and loving animals who are gentle enough to be your pet & smart enough to not just sit there like a turtles. Thanks Penny for teaching me to slow down & see God in the little things.
-Penny has taught me that responsibility is hard yet rewarding. Penny has to be walked, fed, & nurtured daily. She needs food in her bowl & water on the side all day long. She can't be ignored for more than a few hours and she needs our love & attention. It's hard but it's so rewarding. We grow and mature when we take on different responsibilities. I can't wait until our future kids can have a pet of their own so that they can learn responsibility too. Thanks PenPen for teaching me responsibilities.
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-Penny has taught me that I am not ready for kids. I joke around that I have about a million and one reasons for this. First off, I kinda have a major crush on my husband and I love being around him 24/7. I am aware that kids (though I am told they are worth it) can get in the way of this. We have only been married a year and a few days so I am in no hurry to have kids. Plus, it annoys me when Penny tries to jump on our bed at night. I can't imagine how often kids will do that. Second, we love to travel. Penny has made this difficult for us already because before we leave, we have to make sure she has somewhere to stay and someone trustworthy to watch her. And normally it costs money. And sometimes it gets hectic. Throw a couple of kids in the mix and that would just add to the stress of finding a sitter and would cut our traveling in half or more. Third, I mentioned above that Penny is a lot of responsibility. When she was a baby puppy, we would have to get up in the middle of the night with her to take her outside and were constantly cleaning up after her. Babies need the same thing only 10 times worse. I'm not ready to give up my sleep just yet. I am excited for the day that my husband and I are both ready and excited to bring a baby into our already little family but now isn't the time and we are perfectly okay with having a fur baby instead! Thanks Penny for teaching me that I am selfish and you're already a handful.
-Penny has taught me to enjoy life, carefree and worryfree. Of course, I am still learning this one. She loves to run and play and soak up some sun every chance she gets. She loves to watch birds fly in the sky. She loves to jump and run around in circles. She loves to sit in your lap and kiss {lick} your cheek when you're sick. She is just a carefree dog living it up in a worry-free world. I'm so jealous at times. And then I realize that I am so lucky I'm not covered in fur. Thanks Penny for teaching me to enjoy life more, to run and play and kiss cheeks often.
-Penny has taught me what absolute loyalty & bubbly love looks like. I was a SAHW so I am home with Penny for most of each day. She is attached to my side all day/every day. If I am cooking, she's in the kitchen. If I'm blogging, she's under my feet. If my husband and I are eating breakfast, Penny is eating breakfast below us. If I am getting ready for the day, she is lying on my feet. She loves to be in our presence. It makes me think...
What if I was so in love with Jesus that I longed to be at his feet all day, everyday... if I was completely satisfied and happy in His presence... if I depended on Him for every single thing just like Penny depends on us for her life. These are the things I want to grow in & see become a reality in my heart with the Lord. Thanks Penny for teaching me to rely on Him & be more in love with Him!
What have you learned from your pet? I would love to hear it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Strength & Light

David's collections in Psalm has really been changing my heart. God's Word has the power to do that if we let it. I am in Psalm 50-something but I love going back and sharing with you a few words that are so deeply inspiring & moving. These thoughts are from Psalm 18. I encourage you to read it in whole. I'm just going to share bits & pieces of this beautiful psalm...
"I will love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised..."
oh, this could be the cry of my heart for the rest of my days... If it wasn't for the Lord & the strength He daily gives to me, I wouldn't be here. How grateful should our hearts be that He is able to be our Rock, our Fortress, & our Deliverer! {v 1-3a}
"He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me."
I am so guilty of believing the lie that God does not delight in me. Sometimes I feel like I am just a bother & one of his children who get on his nerves. But he is not like a normal parent. His love for us is more than we can even imagine. He rescues us, helps us, teaches us, & loves us because He delights in us! Do you believe that God delights in you? Because He does! {v19}
"For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
I cannot put into words how thankful and humbled I am that the Lord lights up my darkness. In my self is no good thing. Jesus is the only light in me. And we can trust that God will always be willing to light our lamps. We don't have to worry about being good enough. Another thing that just brings me to my knees in gratitude is the fact that by my God, I can leap over a wall. Is there a big wall you're facing right now that you feel you will never overcome? By God & His mighty strength, anything is possible! We can trust these words of security and truth because the word of the Lord is proven. David can testify that God can be trusted even when thousands oppose us. Even when that wall seems too high. God is our shield. {v 28-30}
"Therefore, I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to Your name."
This verse is such a great reminder to me that my response to God should always be thanks and praise because He is so good to me. I should be willing to praise Him even around people who do not know Him. I should never be ashamed of my God. He helps me, gives me strength, leads me, protects me, makes the impossible possible, & is my shield. {v 49}
Thank Him for being all that you need.
He is enough!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our First Year of Marriage

On July 20th, 2013, I stood outside dressed in ivory and promised my heart and life to my tall and handsome best friend in a coral tie who just so happened to be the man that God created just for me. The words we spoke, straight from our hearts, tied our lives together.
"I do!"
The tall & handsome fella in the cream-colored suit who carried me down the aisle is the same strong man who has carried me through sleepless nights, lots of tears, laughing fits, & everything in between. He has been faithful, bold, strong, caring, trustworthy, warm, & gracious. He has been the one I run to when I mess up or get my feelings hurt. He is the one who deals with my mood swings & random crying spells. He is my encourager, my best friend, & my biggest fan. He prays for me daily and I lift him up to our Lord every morning and every night.
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He is the one who makes me frustrated, cry, or laugh until I pee in my pants. He gives me butterflies in my stomach every single time he looks me in the eye. {no joke} I have never gotten tired of having him around. His laugh and sense of humor are both contagious. He gets mad at me when I feel like getting under his skin. He is smart and wise and way better at sports than I am. He supports me in my dreams and provides for my every need, working hard, and will walk around the mall with me and buy every coral dress we spot.
He leaves the toilet seat up and in the middle of the night, I fall in the toilet. I forget to dry his work shirts and he ends up wearing a wrinkled and wet button up.
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In life, We walk together. Some days, he is holding me. Some days, I am pulling him. And some days, we are both too weak to keep going but we do. Our God is in the middle of us.
My husband is on my side but some days aren't picture perfect. We are two sinful humans in one home trying to keep from messing up too much. We dream together and sometimes we have to speak reality to one another.
I hurt him and he hurts me. My feelings get crushed over words he speaks and he feels unloved when I choose selfishness. I get way too sassy with him and he gets a little too real with me.
We read our bible together and ask the hard questions. We encourage each other to seek the face of The Lord. We pray and we intercede. We praise and we dance together. We serve in church side by side and he fills in the gaps that I miss. We push each other. We strive to serve God wholeheartedly. Sometimes we forget to read our Bible and sometimes we doubt God's perfect plan. We ask for forgiveness & do it all over again.
We fight temptation. We mess up. We pray over each other. He speaks healing and blessings over me. I ask for strength and wisdom over his heart.
This is marriage. This is love. This is life. Joe and Katie. Husband and wife.
And we will do these things and more, each day for the rest of our lives on earth until we finally get Home. And even then, we will meet on our stars and sing praises to the King of Kings who saw it fitting to place two of His children together on earth.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

My Fun & Serious Office Essentials

HEY y'all! I wanted to do a fun post for today because I am so excited to be sitting in my "office" finishing up on some bible reading & time spent with Jesus. My hubby & I moved into our first new home in 2013 & I am just now getting around to sprucing up my "office space"! For a couple of months, this room was a wedding shower gift holder until my awesomely great cleaner of a mother came and helped me clean it out! After a couple of months of motivation, we finally started turning it into my dream. I have always wanted a quiet space to meet with God in, write, & create things. We were blessed with a three bedroom house where I could do just that! It's still under construction since I only have one of about 10 wall hangings that I actually want up but, hey, it's a start! Enjoy my little quiet space we formally call the "office" since it has a printer. In reality, it's my prayer and writing room. And the place where our Penny loves to catch a few zzz's!

In your office/prayer/create room, you must have:

1. Lovely typography! I absolutely love this one from Pray, Live, Create! These words are inspired by the 42nd Psalm where David writes, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." I have had to pray these exact words, "still I will praise you" a lot over the past few months. I want my heart to know that no matter what happens, still I will praise my faithful God. It's a great reminder to have sitting around! One of these days, I want to frame it. If you haven't checked out Pray, Live, Create, you should! You will love Steph & Kim. And did I mention their printables are free?!
2. Organization! I certainly do not enjoy a messy desk although that's normally how it is half the time. But these cute little organizers that I snagged from Kirklands for under $7 are perfect for a little desk like mine! You can also find them very cheap at places like TJ Maxx. Plus they add a pop of color on my light grey wooden desk.
3. A really cute puppy! You can't have Penny, our Siberian Retriever puppy, but I do recommend getting a little thing. Although I suppose a baby would suffice but they seem like too much work. Penny loves laying at my feet whenever I'm at my desk. She doesn't leave my side anyway so she loves to just relax and play with her toys for a while.
4. A good devotion! If you have read my blog for the past couple of months, you KNOW how much I love a good devotional. Especially this little gem!! Beth Moore is my favorite women authors and although this book is mostly you writing your own prayers to God, she is so good at guiding you & getting you excited about how AWESOME our God truly is! A good devo is essential to any prayer room! If you would like any recommendations, please let me know!
5. Coffee. Oh yes. Of course, it wouldn't be official without a good cup of hot coffee or tea. My husband and I have this "thing" where we buy a coffee mug anywhere special that we travel to. This one is from one of last year's trips to Pikes Peak, a beautiful place, where God's creative hand is fully seen.
6. Wall Space. A place to post prayer requests, thoughts, and/or bible verses is vital to our work/prayer space! On one of our walls in this room, we have a full chalkboard wall. We started out posting weekly bible verses but, to be honest, this is the same verse from like September of 2013. Fail. But I still love it! Maybe one day when kids come along, they can enjoy this wall a little more than we do. :)
7. A smell-good candle is essential for any room. Of course, I recommend opening it first. That normally helps. It's just too cute to open!
8. His Word! My bible is essential to  my room because it's where I love to spend time with God and how can you hear from Him fully without His word?! My husband and I have been reading the OT (for almost a year now) and I am finally in Psalm. I have learned & enjoyed so much of His Word.
9. A Good Desk. And preferably one with handles! Haha. I have yet to add my newly painted white handles just because, honestly, they haven't been painted yet. I was lucky to get this desk refinished thanks to my sweet sister coming to my rescue!

10. Books! I love, love, love reading. I mostly enjoy Christian teaching books but I have the occasional Life of Pi or Christian mystery fiction. My favorites lately are 7 by Jen Hatmaker, any Beth Moore book, & Love Does by Bob Goff. I finished reading Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall with my small group ladies & The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller with another women's bible study group! I also found Radical and Kisses from Katie that I am dying to get back into. Ah, so little time!


11. Character & Memories! I have a few pictures of my husband and I sitting around the room adding character and love to my room. The priceless piece above  is me at my prime. Aka 5 years old with the Easter bunny and my awesome mom. The top picture is a book I made for my husband and I before we got married. It is filled with engagement pictures and lovey dovey quotes & letters to him. Treasures!
Hope you enjoyed a little peek into my everyday life!  Go into your day with peace and joy and hope because Jesus loves you more than ever & He has a great purpose and plan for you!

Linking up with these sweet friends: