perder la vida

Learning to Live Missionally and Mindfully

My People. March 30, 2010

Filed under: creativity flowing,frustration,jesus,missional living,thinking — Katie @ 12:09 am

The past few weeks have been really hard on my emotions, body, social life, relationships, and all the other things that suffer when you’re stretched too thin. I waste what little truly free time I have because my brain is so fried that I can’t convince myself to be productive. But I also can’t convince myself to not be productive…. or at least I can’t convince myself that it’s okay to sit back and truly relax. The last day I had “free” where I could do whatever I wanted was the day I was sick several weeks ago… and I still did schoolwork and had to deal with the beginning of the end of my car. So, needless to say, I am in need of rest.

Today, I was about to break. Teaching and going to school plus having a life is all starting to get to me. But today some of my sweet students reminded me of my future as a teacher and of how the work I am doing now is all worth it. I try to bring a variety of books with me to 2nd grade for students to read when they have free time. Since testing is going on, the school day was a little more relaxed and there was plenty of time for free reading. My book selection today was a selection of poetry books. Two Langston Hughes books, a Caribbean poetry book, and a fun-read poetry book were the choices.

For about half an hour, I sat with five students… listening to them read beautiful poetry, question its “point,” and having them ask me to read poetry to them. It was the most beautiful moment of my entire time at Southview. I had no idea they’d be so interested in poetry… and interested in poetry that they didn’t necessarily understand. Hearing a struggling reader boldly read “Theme for English B” or the laughter of little boys when I explained the meaning behind “When Sue Wears Red” or the sweet song of a girl singing “Hey!”…. it just made my heart smile.

But the moment when I had to hold it together so I wouldn’t bust out in tears of thankfulness and adoration was when my little bitty ball of fire read “My People” with the passion and enthusiasm of a great orator. As she read, the uncomplicated words felt like a blanket around my worn-out soul… reminding me of the simplicity of the world and of the beauty of such magical moments.

“My People”

The night is beautiful,

So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,

So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

– Langston Hughes

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Back from the ‘boro March 18, 2010

Filed under: frustration,jesus,missional living,spirtual matters — Katie @ 2:28 pm

It’s Spring Break. WORD.

Originally, I had no Spring Break plans other than to sleep, relax, and catch up on schoolwork. Then I decided that was ridiculous. So after a brief chat with my mom, I thought that a trip to Greensboro (NC) would be a great idea. It WAS a great idea! It wasn’t a very long trip… but long enough to get away from Tuscaloosa, catch up with some great friends, and fall a little bit more in love with North Carolina.

What I realized about Greensboro during this trip is that it’s just a really big small town. As Greensboro has grown, it has built itself around existing buildings and homes. I’m sure many structures have been demolished over time to make way for growth, but many more remain. The downtown area is also not overwhelming… nowhere near the madness of Atlanta or Boston. Okay, I know those cities are much, much larger than Greensboro… but… that’s what I think of when I think of driving downtown! Anyway, I could go on and on about all the things I love about Greensboro.

But, what I loved most about this trip was our visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum (could they have chosen a longer name?). According to Alisa, Greensboro is where the civil rights movement began. 🙂 The museum is actually located in the old Woolworth’s department store building, which is where four young men from NC A&T protested the injustice of the continued practice of segregation. They began their protest on February 1, 1960. Within a week, students from other universities in the south began holding their own sit-ins. Within three months, the sit-in movement had swept the racially tense south and helped bring racial segregation to an end.

Since I am from the south and have experienced modern racism, I am fascinated by anything and everything to do with the civil rights movement. But, this museum moved me in an unexpected way.

The first exhibit featured a KKK robe and hood. I did not expect to see that… at all. It was in a dimly lit case and, at first, I didn’t notice it. I walked closer to the case to read an information board on an adjacent wall. Then, I realized I was standing right next to this disgusting artifact. Once I realized what it was, I almost broke down in tears right then and there! There is a part of me that is so ashamed of the people who came before me. None of my family was involved with the KKK… in fact, my great-grandfather (a rich landowner, farmer, and employer) set an example in our community for helping African-Americans. But, I still cringe whenever I see anything related to that awful organization. I wondered how I really would have felt about blacks during the 50’s and 60’s. Would I have been a friend? Would I have helped fight for civil rights? Or would I have fallen into the trap of ignorance like so many southern whites?

I could go on and on about the things I saw in the museum and how I feel and how I am constantly taking for granted the freedoms and civil liberties that we have now. Just being able to stand in the same room with people of all races is a major achievement. But, what I haven’t stopped thinking about since the visit is not about race at all. I started thinking about human trafficking and the fact that there are more people enslaved today in 2010 than there were before the American emancipation. I don’t think about it much because it’s not as prominent in the U.S. But, countries across the world are harboring and trading human beings for sex and labor. India alone has 40 million bonded slaves (the Dalits/Untouchables) working to pay off the debts of their ancestors.

I wonder what I can do… I wonder if I can do anything. I wonder why our attention has been on Iraq for so long when there are so many more people hurting across the world? I wonder why we are stuck on one civil rights movement (Though powerful! And important!) when our global brothers and sisters in our current day and time have no civil rights and no liberties are are being treated like animals. I wonder if things will ever change. To me, the problem seems so big that there may not be a solution. But I hope that as we become more aware of the realities of this world,  people will begin to take a stand the way those four young men took a stand for racial equality in a time of division and hatred. And maybe… just maybe… one day I will walk through the halls of a museum dedicated to the disenthrallment of slaves everywhere.

That was deep. 🙂

 

Though it costs all you have… January 28, 2010

Filed under: 1,jesus,ME,mindful living,spirtual matters — Katie @ 1:38 pm

… get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7

Lately, I’ve been re-reading the book of Proverbs. I don’t really know why… usually, I’m an Old Testament story person. I’d rather read Exodus or Chronicles or about Abraham or Esther than read a collection of random sayings. To be completely honest, I’d rather read the Old Testament than the New. I also really like the Psalms. And I like Hebrews. But, Proverbs??  Proverbs does not have a story, a plot, or a true main character (other than “Wisdom”). It’s in the Old Testament, but that’s just about the only favorable trait I can find. But no matter how out of character it is for me to want to read it, I still read it. And I love it.

I think I love Proverbs because I stink at all the things the book talks about. I stink at “keeping my foot from evil” (4:27), “giving freely” (11:24), providing “a gentle answer” instead of a “harsh word” (15:1), and “seeing danger and taking refuge” (27:12).

If my life had a little more Proverbs in it, it might turn out just a tad bit better.

 

Saying Goodbye January 21, 2010

I have said “goodbye” far too often over the past few years. When I stop and think about the grief my family and I have endured since 2006, it overwhelms me. Sometimes, out of nowhere, feelings of anger and bitterness rise up because I randomly remember that life is not fair.

On Saturday, I heard about a 25-year-old acquaintance of mine who died in a boating accident. This acquaintance of mine, Matt Miller, was golden. I am not going to elaborate on his life here, but just know that he was the kind of person everyone should have the opportunity to know. I was shocked by his death. Angry, even, that God could somehow think that Matt Miller’s life on earth was complete. Matt’s death reminded me so much of the car accident that took my 18-year-old cousin, Jonathan’s, life in May 2008. I remembered my dad’s quick illness and sudden death in 2006. I remembered all the people I have known who have died in the past three and a half years. There are too many to name.

Then I remembered that just one year ago today, my granddaddy left this earth. I remembered how perfect his last few days were. We were ready to say goodbye. Watching my granddaddy fade from one life to the next was much like watching a ship sail out to sea. We prepared ourselves for his leaving, savored each moment, and took him to a place where he could be set free. And in those very last days, there we were, my family and I, standing at the shore waving our last “goodbye’s” until he had sailed so far away that we could not see him any more.

Saying goodbye is hard. Whether you have the opportunity to bask in a loved one’s final sunset or if someone’s life is ripped from this earth like a tree cleaved from its roots, saying goodbye is hard. It is never easy.

It’s not supposed to be.

 

Coming to an End December 14, 2009

Filed under: frenz,fun times,jesus — Katie @ 2:22 pm

The fall semester has come and gone, the year is winding down, and my time as the 345 teacher at church is coming to an end. I committed to work each Sunday for a semester and my time is almost up (unless something changes, but for now… that’s the plan). Before it’s all over, I just wanted to stop and reflect on the past few months with the kids and what God has done throughout the semester.

I have to admit, I was a little weary of my commitment at first because it meant that I wasn’t going to be able to really help lead worship for four months. I was able to sing a few times during the second service, but it was a hassle and more trouble than what it was really worth. But, as the semester went on and I really got to know the kids, I knew I made the right choice. Working with kids can sometimes be exhausting (especially when you have sixteen in your class and you try to throw a party and decorate cupcakes!!), but I always leave the KidZone refreshed and smiling, glad that I spent part of my day with such fantastic kids.

I wish I had written down more of the hilarious stuff that happened or was said… this post would probably be a lot funnier if I could remember those things! One of my favorite moments was when everyone was laughing at something and Eli says, “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you.” Haha! So wise, even at four years old! I’m also proud to say that Jack finally learned my name about halfway through the semester. Poor thing has a lot of “K” names to remember, so at some point he just settled on calling me “Teacher.” Eventually, he remembered my name and hopefully he won’t forget it!

All the kids have been so much fun to teach. Their little personalities amaze me… how they each have a distinct way about them and each have their own preferences and interests. I have loved getting to know them and I hope to have the opportunity to continue watching them grow! That means babysitting, people. 🙂

 

Dreamer November 10, 2009

Filed under: creativity flowing,jesus,ME,spirtual matters,thinking — Katie @ 2:03 pm

As many of you reading this already know, I have very imaginative and vivid dreams. As an infant, I suffered from “night terrors.” These are horrifying dreams that babies often suffer from that cause them to wake up “screaming bloody murder” (in my Mom’s terms). The first dream I remember having was actually a recurring one where my head would get held underwater in a fish tank and I would wake up gasping for air. In 2004/2005, I would dream about my dad dying and would wake up in tears. These dreams prompted me to get closer to my dad and reminded me how precious my time was with him and when he died in 2006, I realized the importance of those dreams. In high school, I dreamed my grandmother died and was so convinced that it actually happened when I woke up, that I immediately called her to see if she was still alive (she was okay!)!

 

But I have also had hysterically funny dreams…. like the time I was being chased by a giant cricket. I often have dreams that are completely absurd and I wake up laughing. Even though I don’t believe these dreams have any deeper meaning or significance in and of themselves, I really believe they are a gift from God… I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up laughing!?

 

Some of you reading this may not believe that God is in control of our dream life. I, however, do. The Bible has several stories of prophetic dreams and their interpretations. Jesus’ birth itself is intertwined with messages delivered through dreams. As early as Genesis, we hear of Joseph interpreting a dream for Pharaoh. Daniel interpreted the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, and even Joseph (Mary’s husband) had dreams sent directly from the Lord.

 

Since I believe that the gift of prophecy is certainly alive and well in Christians today, I also believe that dreams are a type of language in which God chooses to speak to us. Some of us are open to this type of language, some are not. I know people who never remember their dreams and are convinced that they do not dream at all. There are several reasons for this, but I won’t get into that here. I just know that God designed me to receive and interpret dreams.

 

In Mark 4, Jesus tells the disciples that “The secret (“mystery” in some translations) of the kingdom of God has been given to you.” (v. 11) Later, he tells them, “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” (v. 22-23) We all know that Jesus taught in parables and I believe that the Lord is still giving us parables today. Prophecy and dreams are a type of parable, a different type of language that God delivers to us. Most of us ask God for clear and concise information, but I don’t believe that’s always how God works. I mean…. the whole bible is a story that we all interpret to gain meaning and understanding and purpose for our lives. The prophetic is the same. They are stories, images, dreams, words, prompts… ways that the Lord speaks to us for us to interpret.

 

Now, I could go on and on about the interpretation part and how you have to be very careful when interpreting the prophetic. If I receive a dream that I believe is “spiritual” but cannot figure out an interpretation, I put it on the back-burner. I had a dream a few months ago that basically told me that a friend of mine had an evil spirit around him and that he was being used by the spirit to distract an entire church. That is a pretty serious accusation, so I was careful to seek interpretation. I still do not have that dream figured out, therefore I have put it on the back-burner and am still open to an interpretation should it come. But, for now, I do not believe that my friend has an evil spirit around him. Instead, I have just prayed for protection from such spirits and for the Lord to protect that church. Sometimes, dreams are used for a warning rather than for an update on current events. And, sometimes, you have to just give the spicy taco you ate at 11pm the credit for your crazy dreams.

 

If you are still reading this, props to you. Let me know that you made it this far. I feel like I am writing a book on prophetic dreams when I actually just sat down to write about some of the funny dreams I have been having lately. So, I’ll jump to the funny bits.
I have not been having a lot of prophetic dreams lately. In April, I started reading a book by James & Michal Ann Goll called Dream Language. It’s a great book and has helped me understand my dreams and why I receive them. It also prompted me to start a dream journal. I have been writing my dreams and their interpretations (or lack thereof) since then. I found myself up and writing dreams at one in the morning on occasion. Lately, though, I’ve been pretty dry. And sometimes I’ll have a dream and get so busy that I forget to write it down… and then I forget it.

 

But over the past few weeks, the hysterical dreams have come back in full force. The funny dreams started with a dream in which I was dating…… LUDACRIS. Seriously. We were an item and he was so, so sweet. All I can really remember from the dream was that he picked up some really heavy boxes for me and I would tell people that I loved him because he could “carry heavy stuff” for me. That’s the resounding phrase I kept hearing, “carry heavy stuff.” So… maybe I need some hot rapper in my life to carry all my heavy stuff… whatever that means.

 

Funny dream #2 came to me Saturday night. I watched a creeper movie called 28 Days Later where these zombie-like infected people try to attack the few remaining humans on earth. I even told the person I was with that I was going to dream about zombies that night. Sure enough, I did. I dreamed that I was being chased by zombies. I kept having close encounters, but managed to escape every time. At one point, someone actually rescued me from an attack. The next thing I knew, I was in a rickety boat with a handful of other people. The lake we were on was murky and steamy and the people told me we had to go underwater in order to be saved from the zombies. I was crying hysterically because I thought they meant that we had to drown ourselves. I refused to go into the water, so this guy with super dark hair (the details!!) pulled me into the water. Once I was under, the water was vividly clear and I could see everything. There was a whole city under that dingy lake! Plus, we could breathe under the water! It was a miracle. At the lake floor, there was a medical treatment facility and that’s where we went. I don’t know what happened there because the dream jumped forward. All of a sudden, the people from the boat (dark haired guy included) and I were riding on a cart in a busy airport. In my head, I kept thinking “To these people (who were passing by us), it’s just another day. They have no idea that we just encountered ZOMBIES.”

 

Dream #3 happened last night and has fewer details, but it was still funny. I was on The Office and we were showing all the employees the new Jim doll. Dwight was so angry. The Jim doll was made in the likeness of the Dwight doll, except with Jim’s features. We all knew it was making Dwight mad, so we kept going on and on about the new Jim doll. It was so weird.

 

So, there you have it. Congratulations if you made it to the end. You’re either a trooper…. or really, really bored.

 

A Brand New Day September 22, 2009

Filed under: family,jesus,ME — Katie @ 10:22 pm

I miss my dad.

Simple as that. I miss him. Not a day goes by where my mind doesn’t stop and pause on thoughts of him. Each September, I start to relive the last week of my dad’s life. I can’t help but wish I could go back to that week and linger on every single moment that came and went. I wish I could stand there in my dad’s presence just one last time… soaking up every crinkle in his tanned skin, the deepness of his dark brown eyes, every wiry gray hair, every raspy word he had to say.

The last time I saw him, I knew I needed to pay attention. Something in me knew to take in as much as I could, but I had no idea that would be the last time I saw him alive. Now that I know, I can’t help but wish to go back so I could stay just a little longer. So I could hug him longer, tell him sweeter things, hold tightly to his leathery brown hands and spend just one more moment with him.

But what I know is that just one more moment would never be enough. If I had five more minutes, I would want five more. If I had two more days, I would want two more. Even another lifetime with him wouldn’t be enough.

This year has held more hurt than the previous two. The dust my dad’s death stirred up is beginning to settle again. Life is moving forward without him. My mom and I have learned what life looks like without him. In some ways, it’s good. It’s good to continue on and live a life that would make him proud. But, in some ways, it’s heartbreaking. There is so much I wish I could share with him…so much I wish I could say… so much I wish he could see.

But through all the pain, through all the brokenness, and through all the many tears I’ve cried, I cannot deny the fact that the Lord has carried me every single step of the way. I cannot say it enough – God. is. faithful. He is so faithful. He is so trustworthy. When my world was turned upside down, He promised He would take care of me and I stand today as a testament to His provisions, to His mercy, and to His love for me. I want to shout at the rooftops of His goodness! The more my heart breaks, the more the Lord puts it back together… and the more He puts it back together, the more I want to tell the world about His goodness. For all the tears I’ve cried out of grief, I have cried ten times more out of thankfulness and excitement about the way the Lord has kept His promise to me.

I miss my dad. I always will. But when I think about what the Lord has done, I can’t help but be thankful for all the moments I did have with my dad and for the twenty-one years I knew him and for the relationship we had. I can’t help but be thankful for the Lord’s provision, for new-found father figures, for new “families,” and for a brand spanking new life.

Yesterday marked three years since my dad left this world. It was a good day… a busy one, filled with plenty of distractions. But at the end of the day, I remembered my dad. I remembered what I was doing on that day three years ago. And I remembered the Lord’s goodness. And last night, new life was brought into the world. My cousin Esther Charlotte was born. Three years ago yesterday, her parents also said goodbye to a little life yet to even make it into to this world. And three years later… a beautiful baby girl is born. So, here’s to God’s goodness… for goodbye’s and hello’s. For life in the midst of death. For hope in the face of loss. For me, yesterday was a brand new day.