July 24, 2010

The One That Says Thank You

Posted in CBSP at 11:51 pm by Katie

Disclaimer:  Parts of this may not make any sense unless you were on project.

Oh, CBSP…first of all, I love each and every single one of you oh so much.  There are so many things I wanted to say to y’all on Wednesday night, but there was no way anything was coming out without me crying more than I already was, haha.  So, this is an open letter to y’all to say all the things I wanted to say.

I’m not going to lie…I was pretty nervous the entire drive down to Clearwater.  I kept thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”  I definitely didn’t think I was ready to spend an entire summer growing in my walk with the Lord, and as excited as I had been throughout the entire process, those last couple of days the nerves got the best of me.  But from the moment I stepped into the courtyard at the North Sunrise, all those fears and nerves completely left me.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much love in five minutes, haha.  I know that a lot of us felt pretty overwhelmed that first day, myself included, but it was a good overwhelmed – more of a comfort than anything else.

Logan, Kristin, Kevin, and Will – I still laugh when I think about y’all passing me on the interstate in Georgia.  How appropriate that y’all basically took me in that first night.  It was like, oh, instant friends!  From heading to the beach that first afternoon to our first (of many, many, MANY) Target run that night, I am so grateful that you let me into your UTC circle and let me tag along those first couple of days.

Other memories of that first day include sitting on the incredibly hot area around the pool eating pizza, Ryan informing me that he wouldn’t forget my last name because it was the same as his girlfriend’s, being excited that Katie had on a Carolina shirt (yeah, it was the wrong Carolina…oh well, haha) and that Jenna was from Western.  I remember going to bed that night knowing that it was going to be an amazing summer.

Staff, let’s face it…y’all are just amazing.  I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by so many loving, caring individuals for the first part of project.  I especially appreciated so many examples of beautiful godly marriages, especially since that’s something that I haven’t had a lot of.  Just seeing the love that y’all had for each other and for your children was such a wonderful blessing and made me look forward to that part of my life that much more.

Lindsey and Mikel – I just love you both.  You were amazing LifeGroup leaders, and I so appreciate the way you invested in all of us from the start.  Lindsey, I’m glad we found out that we were the same person in a lot of ways, that you asked questions and pushed me further to open up more, and that you listened to my ridiculously long seven-minute testimony in Clear Sky, haha.  I also can’t thank you enough for encouraging me through the job search and supporting me financially through those hard times.  And, I have your address permanently memorized…haha.  Mikel, you know we loved your desserts…haha.  But I also loved getting to spend time with you and your family, playing with your girls, and getting to know you better.  I’m excited to be making some of your recipes…once I figure out where I packed them…haha.

Ashley – thank you for being our family mom…keeping our crazy family in line…encouraging us to build crazy Play-Dough farms (LOOAS!)…and just being so fun.  I love that we both know Niki, that we both love her hugs, and that Jenna and I could help you with your hug face, haha.

To all of my fellow students – you all are just so amazing.  There aren’t even words to describe it.  Thank you for letting me be the mom, not making me feel crazy awkward for being the oldest, and loving on me all the time.  Thank you for all the crazy memories – fat Fridays, driving around searching for jobs, random people at 4th of July fireworks, paying people $10 to be buried in the sand to win the scavenger hunt, SO. MUCH. RAIN, sharing with people on the beach and sharing those stories with one another, pirates vs. ninjas, serving at Pinellas Hope, P. Randy & Big Al…CHAINS BE BROKEN, being incredibly tacky at tacky prom…there are so many more.  But more importantly, thank you for being beautiful examples of loving the Lord whenever I needed it.  It was so incredibly encouraging to be surrounded by so many people who just love the Lord and to share in that.

To the roomies of room six – You girls are just so amazing.  I love y’all so, so, so much.  Katlyn and your peanut butter addiction, Logan being my daughter, Kristy and your ridiculous sleeping and waking up habits, and Chelsea with all of our drives and adventures around Clearwater, Largo, etc.  I cannot wait to hear about the amazing things God is doing in each of your lives.  I hope you know how special you all are to me.

To the amazing evangelism team – I’m so encouraged by each and every one of you.  I’m so amazed at how we all worked together so well to plan events.  I’ve learned so much from each of you.  Jordan, thanks so much for doing the hard questions stuff.  I learned so, so much going through that with you and Jon, Katlyn, and Chelsea.

To my beautiful LifeGroup girls – thank you so much.  Katie, Susie, Morgan, and Kourtney – thanks for hearing all my junk that very first Sunday and still loving me regardless.  Thanks for growing with me and loving on me week in and week out.  Alison, Kristin, Kourtney, and Misha – thanks for making us the best combined LifeGroup ever, for growing with me even more, and thanks to all of you for Serious Cookie my last night.  That was so, so special and so fun to spend a lot of my last night with y’all.

There’s probably something I could say about every single one of you, because you each touched my heart in some way over the course of the summer.  Thank you all so much for my card and everything from my last night on project.  You have no idea how much your encouraging words mean to me.  It’s currently sitting here in my room in my apartment, just waiting for a good place to be put on display.

Please know that y’all are more than welcome in Columbia at any time.  If you need anything, please, please, please call, text, Skype, whatever me.  I will always be the mom whenever you need me to be!  Enjoy the rest of your time on project, keep me updated on all the fun stuff that happens, and enjoy the rest of college.  I know I’ve said it before, but it goes by so, so fast.  Cherish it and don’t wish it away, because you’re going to miss it once it’s gone.

I’ll leave you with my prayer for each one of you:

“I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” – Phillippians 1:3-11

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Just random thoughts…

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:10 pm by Katie

And so, the summer has (basically) ended.  It’s back to semi-normal life, except this sort of normal is completely new and unknown to me.

I left Clearwater Beach on Thursday to come here, to Columbia, SC, to start this new journey in my life.  For the next two years, I’ll be a grad student at USC, learning all there is to know about higher education and student affairs.  I’ll be a grad assistant for academic success initiatives in university housing.  I’ll be living in a nice new apartment with a new roommate who will be going through the same program with me.  I’ll be crazy busy, mostly broke, and hopefully loving every second of it.

It’s so weird to think about how life changes in an instant.  I don’t think I ever would have guessed that I would be in the position I am right now, this very second of my life.  But the comforting thing is to know that God has known all along that He would place me right here, right in this moment.  Even when things are new and scary and hard, it’s definitely a comfort to know that God has placed me here for some reason, some purpose, some way to bring glory to His name.

I think this summer just strengthened that idea in me, that faith in an all-powerful God.  Because this summer I had to lean on Him pretty hard.  I was frustrated with Him, mad at Him, and had absolutely no idea why He was doing certain things in my life (or wasn’t).  I had to trust that He would provide, that He would take care of me when things were looking bleak.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard several people close to me say that they just knew I was glad to be in SC and have some sense of routine and normalcy return to life, that they knew this summer was hard for me.  But as much as I try to explain it, they don’t understand that leaving Clearwater was probably the hardest part of the entire summer.  Leaving the people who had become so, so dear and close to me in just a matter of two months.  Leaving the places that had become home, the roads that had become familiar, and the beautiful sandy beach that had become an escape.  Yes, I’m excited about this new adventure in my life, but I will never, ever forget the two months I spent in Clearwater Beach, FL during the summer of 2010.

It’s a beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing – being a child of God.  It hurts when people don’t understand or discount it to something it’s not.  But I’m constantly reminded that it’s part of my job to try and help people understand, help people realize how amazing this life truly is.  How blessed am I to know this amazing truth, this amazing story of love and grace and mercy, and to be able to share it with the nations.

I said this a lot before leaving Kentucky, and even some while I was on project, but it’s true – I’m excited to be here, starting this new adventure in South Carolina, and to be on this journey as a Christian.  I feel like it was really hard, becoming a Christian my senior year of college, because a lot of people had a lot of expectations for the person I “should” be – the person they’d seen before.  Here, it’s a new start.  Yes, I still have my past and junk in my heart, but at least now I can use those things that God has woven into my life to bring glory to Him and the new life He’s given me.  I’ve seen that even in just talking with people on the beach this summer.  God has already used my story to help me connect with complete strangers, so I’m really excited to see what He has planned for people that I am already close to.

I feel like this blog post is all over the place, haha.  Probably because I was just about to go to bed and then felt like I had too many thoughts on my mind.  I’m also about to write another post…so yeah, I should probably wrap it up.  Pictures of the new apartment to come soon =)

July 10, 2010

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…

Posted in CBSP at 2:59 am by Katie

Oh man…so yeah, no update in a LONG time. I apologize. Project life is just one crazy, busy, hectic mess…but it’s a beautiful, amazing mess, just like we are.

Job…or lack thereof: So, Things Remembered didn’t work out. The lady was very interested in me, but it was only going to be 10-15 hours a week in St. Pete, which is a good 30-45 minutes away, so it just wasn’t worth it. So, I went to the temp agency and after about a week received a job with Hit Promotions – basically a factory job. I did this for a week…on my feet, 8-9 hours a day, catching bags off of a dryer and counting and boxing them. Long, hard, hot, miserable work…but doable. However, that first weekend, my right knee was hurting and swollen. By Monday, it was to the point where I couldn’t bend down – a big part of my job. I called in and went to the doctor, who informed me I have patellofemoral pain syndrome…which, from what I understand, boils down to this: The angle between my hip, knee, and ankle (called a Q-angle, apparently) is over 12 degrees, which causes my knee cap to slide around. Because of this, and the added strain of being on my feet for 30+ hours that first week, my knee had swollen up under my knee cap. It’s something I’ve always had; it just hasn’t bothered me really up until this point. The doctor asked if I had ever felt like my knee was weak or going to give out when going up and down stairs or bending, which it had – and that’s a sign of this syndrome. Anyway, the consensus was to quit the job because of all the added strain. Unfortunately, this came at a time in project where I only had about 3 weeks left, so finding another job was a little out of the question. So, now I’m just doing as much as I can to provide rides for people to and from work and serve as much as possible around the motel. It’s definitely stressful because I am SUPER broke, haha, and stressing about move-in expenses, etc. But, I’m trusting that this is what God had planned for me this summer all along and that He will provide.

In this, I think that God is actually using me not having a job to strengthen my quiet times with Him. Not having a job means I have plenty of time to devote to being in the Word, reflecting on what He is teaching me, etc. My quiet times have always been an area of struggle for me, just because it’s hard for me to be consistent, but over the past week to week-and-a-half, my quiet times have been amazing. I’m going through the One Year Bible reading plan, which I am woefully behind on, but I’m just keeping with it, per the wise Mary Storie’s instructions. I also receive M-F devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Yesterday, the P31 devotion discussed all of the little, menial things that we, as women, do around the house that are sometimes just so frustrating – dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. But, instead of getting caught in those moments, it’s important to remember that we are handpicked by God, even if we feel overlooked by everyone else, just as David was handpicked by God to become king in 1 Samuel 16. This is just huge for me, because even though I love serving others, it gets to the point where I just get frustrated by it. So, remembering that I am handpicked by God to do these tasks is a wonderful and much-needed reminder.

Other Lessons from God: The biggest thing I’ve learned this summer is just to put my identity in Christ instead of other people. The Lord has really convicted me in this area over the course of the summer. I’m such a people-pleaser, and I went through high school and college just wanting to fit into a group and be wanted and accepted. God has shown me that in stripping away some of these friendships and relationships, He was showing me that I didn’t need these relationships to feel worth; all I needed was Him. Am I sad that a lot of my high school and college friendships are no longer what they once were? Of course. But I’m beginning to learn the lessons that God was weaving through these and use these to build on future friendships and relationships.

Evangelism: Y’all…I came on this project SCARED TO DEATH to go talk to people about my faith. I knew how awkward and touchy it was talking to friends back at home and in Kentucky, so how much more awkward would it be on the beach to people that I did not even know? But the Lord has completely blown me away in this area. Even though I still hate approaching people and determining who I’m going to talk to…once I get into a conversation, I am set. Sure, I don’t have all the knowledge or answers, but I have exactly what God and the Holy Spirit give me, and that’s really all I need.

I purposely chose the Evangelism Team as one of my ministry team choices to force me to step out of my comfort zone, and I have just loved my role on this team. In addition to straight-up evangelism on the beach, we also did an outreach with big sandwich boards covered in 4 big questions, “Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is love?…” and I’ve forgotten the other one ’cause we talked about two. I want to say it was, “What is the meaning of life?” … or “What is truth?” … or um, yeah, I don’t know. Haha. Anyway, we had these set out on the beach, available for people to come and write their answers on and then used these answers to get into conversations. We also did one outreach at Pinellas Hope, which is basically a tent city for homeless in Pinellas County, FL. We partnered with our church here to serve these precious people and provide them with a hot meal. Even though I was serving and cleaning up most of the time and didn’t get into many conversations, it was just amazing to hear the stories that others shared. We are doing two more outreaches with this organization in the coming weeks, which I am so excited for.

Leadership Roles & Staff Leaving: We are so blessed to have wonderful, wise staff leaders to spend half of the summer with us, but at that point they turn the reins over to us and leave us to run the project ourselves. My leadership role for project is operations/finance, which I share with another student here. Basically, we are in charge of the money and making sure project doesn’t fall apart, haha.

Transition night was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. In John 13, we see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples in a beautiful display of love. After staff leadership had announced our student project directors and assistant directors, they proceeded to wash the feet of the newly named LifeGroup leaders, who then washed the feet of their LifeGroup members. It was just such a stunning display to see that played out in person and to pray together. When we transition, the girls’ LifeGroups combine, and so we prayed together as a combined group for the first time that night. I can’t even express to you the emotions that were felt that night, except that there was much crying, loving, hugging, and prayer.

Fun! Oh y’all…we know how to have a good time, haha. Right after staff left, we had like…four solid days of rain. Oh my goodness…do NOT put 41 students in a hotel where it rains for four days. The first day we actually had sun…well, let’s just say I spent two days outside by the pool or at the beach. Other random things that have occurred…

  • Fat Fridays – the gas station down the street offers a special with a large cheese or pepperoni pizza and a 1 liter of pop for $6. Aka…fat Friday.
  • Free Chik-Fil-A…why yes, 25 of us did dress up as cows and went and got a free combo meal at Chik-Fil-A tonight. Haha. AMAZING!
  • Crazy random trips around Clearwater to random locations…Goodwill and Salvation Army? Okay.
  • Round and round the circle of death aka roundabout…ohhhhh man.
  • All you can eat spaghetti and breadsticks for $5.50
  • Being a kid, eating dinosaur chicken nuggets and chocolate pudding cups
  • Going through 11 gallons of sun tea since I’ve been down here
  • Permanently being known as project mom and Jordan’s personal assistant
  • Raft adventures in the ocean with Morgan and Stephanie

And so, so, so many more. Including an apparent Sonic trip that is about to occur.

Anyway, I need to wrap this up, but I just wanted to (finally) update y’all on what’s going on. I love you all so much and miss you guys!

Katie ❤

Oh yeah! I finally uploaded more pics to Facebook, so here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2182980&id=48211371&l=16c7335e1b