Mamica (Mah MEE kah): My Heart My Plan vs. His Heart His Plan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This is gonna be a long one...I have had so many things swirling around in my head lately.  I want to share them ALL with you, my sweet friends who actually read the blog (as always Courtney, Mandy, and momma- I see y'all cheering me on)

Some six years ago, Brian and I journeyed to Moldova on our first ever international mission trip.  The circumstances surrounding that mission trip included a whole LOT of His voice and a whole LOT of His miracles.  We both went into it thinking that we knew exactly what God would show us.  The whole week we were in Moldova the summer of 2011, Brian and I were praying fervently...begging God to just use us however He could....and to show us His plan.  I just KNEW that His plan was going to include immediate adoption.  So, I was praying for what I thought was His plan (AKA- I was praying for my plan and trying to make it His plan).  I just knew that the precious little faces that surrounded me...faces that had no constant momma in their lives....I knew God would make one of them mine. I just knew that He would make one of them part of our family in Alabama.  I had planned it all out like a lovely movie in my head.  I just KNEW that it was HIS plan.  My heart and my plan.  I was already thinking about the joy of awaiting the little one's arrival. the joy of their actual arrival, the first time to hold them in my arms as OUR child, picking out clothes, introducing them to their family, being up late at night with them, worrying if they are sick or not, sharing our name with our child.  It was all running through my head like old home movies.  It was quite beautiful and perfect.  Little did I know how different life would be.

God's plans were quite different than ours.  We didn't have that time of expectant anticipation of the little one's arrival.  We  haven't been able to introduce the little one to their family in Alabama.  We became parents to 18 girls (really 36) over night.  Not one of these girls shares our name.  It happened through tragedy and hurt.  While we missed a lot of the transition time to parenthood...we have had the joys and the sorrows of parenthood.  We do have the late nights wondering if they are ok and safe....wondering if they know how much they are loved. We do worry if they are sick or not.  We do experience the immensity of understanding how our every decision affects others.  We do experience failure.  We do experience the importance of being able to apologize when we haven't handled a situation correctly.  As with actual legal adoption, we recognize that our relationships with them came from loss in many forms-from death of parents to termination of parental rights.  We recognize the extreme loss that brought them into our house.  We look around and physically see 15-22 year old young women...but with our hearts we look around and see little girls who need to express themselves, to test boundaries, to know that they are loved, and to know that they are safe.

I have shared many times that I don't always feel like I have the right to call myself mom.  Parent feels like a safer word.  Momma is such an intimate word and communicates years of life together.  I don't always give myself the right to say that.  This last week I have been feeling exceptionally nostalgic and emotional and overwhelmed with gratitude for God's plan.  His plan is so much more beautiful than mine ever could have been.  He made room in our hearts for not one beautiful child...but 36.  His ways truly are higher.

This past week we celebrated Women's Day in our houses and the girls showered me with flowers and love and precious words.  On Sunday, they invited me to one of the churches they attend to celebrate Mother's Day.  On the way to church, I rode the bus with three of our precious ones.  It is about an hour and fifteen minutes with public transportation to arrive at their church.  The ride to church was so special to me.  I catch myself watching the girls and praying over them the most in public transport.  As we were riding, I found myself contemplating the beauty of the three precious ones that were with me.  I sat gazing at their thoughtful faces that can easily express a range of beautiful emotions.  These girls feel like they are such a part of me. Rather subconsciously to begin with, I found myself searching for genetic similarities.  You know how birth parents do.  I was looking for similarities- my eyes, Brian's broad and easy smile, the same hands my mother, my grandmother and I have- not long and elegant but more utilitarain.  I searched and searched and came up without a single genetic similarity- but I saw a more important family resemblance.  I saw glimpses of our heavenly father in the way their hearts break for those in need, and seek peace, and choose to love those who have hurt them.  I saw family similarities that will mark them as His for the rest of their lives.  I sat there and teared up about how beautiful God's plan is (this is not acceptable on public transport).  When we finally arrived at church, the girls proudly introduced me as their Mamica (momma) and mamasha (another word for momma).  I cried more.  Then there was a special time to recognize mothers...I was still sitting quietly...believing I didn't quite belong in the presence of other mothers who had carried their children for nine months.  One of our precious ones stood up and told about losing her mother and how she had not experienced love until she met Brian and me.  I cried and cried and cried and thanked God for changing my plan to be His.  I cannot imagine missing this.  I cannot imagine missing any day with them...even the days they are grumpy and difficult.  I love those days too.  I am so thankful that God called me to the table and He said, "Kathryn, I know you had another plan...but I've got something better for you.  It won't be easy...it will be very hard. .. But, you can do this, Mamica!"

No genetic resemblance...but full of the same Joy:)

"For my precious Mama, I love you"- a sweet treat left by one of our girls

Our rowdy crew at Mother's Day celebration-this wasn't even half of us:)

I am a spoiled woman.  This is the girls surprising me with flowers and my favorite beverage and candy:)

Just after school share time...this precious one always has an ear full about her day.

Love love love her!




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Home

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Found my journal and this caught my eye.

"October 2015
Right now, Brian and I are sitting in the Vienna airport.  Its hazy gray outisde and clouds are rolling in... I am watching planes come and go....and waiting for our flight to America."


Two and a half years ago I would have written that differently, I would have said that we are waiting for our flight home...but our concept of home has radically changed in the last two and a half years.  Our concept of family, faith, and perserverance....all of those have changed.  The last two and a half years have had some extreme highs and some extreme lows.  We have had big fears, big failures, but also big surprises, big joys, and big love.  The last two and half years have been full to the brim of God's presence.  We have really understood that He is Jehovah Jireh- our provider.  He has provided every need-it hasn't always been when or how we would want it to be....but He is faithful and He provides.

Home is no longer what it once was.  Before we moved here, home was Alabama.  But, we know now more than ever that home is where our people are.  We have people we love in Alabama...people we miss and ache to see...they are home.  We have people in this house of ours who are daughters and precious ones to us...they are home.  It feels so strange to want to visit Alabama...because we want to see our people in America and we simultanesouly don't want to leave our people here....we are torn between two very different worlds.  Now, Alabama seems like some strange and distant land.  We have a new normal.  It is a strange feeling to long for a place that once was so familiar.  Moldova is our familiar now.  We know the winding bumpy roads, we know the routine of police stops and bribe requesting, we know when to smile at strangers and when not to.  We know if we open a window everyone will shout about the draft.  We "know" that ice cream and cold drinks make you get a cold.  We know corruption, we know how to shop and live and work and love here.  We also know the joy of living in a house with 18 teenage girls...we know the joy of a house filled with laughter and loud music.  We know the joy of dear ones coming just to sit next to you and talk.  We know the beauty of Moldova and her people.  I never thought I could feel so at peace here in this country.  I never thought that I could survive the kind of year we have survived.  I never knew how sweet and good our Heavenly father is....and honestly....I guess my home is neither here nor there...my home is not of this world.

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Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good man

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hi friends...Remember me?  I have not blogged in a while and I know you all still love me.  My days consist of doing life with these girls, of soaking up every ounce of information I can about orphan care and shepherding the hurting heart.  Most of our girls come from backgrounds full of hurt and abandonment and that brings with it its own unique set of issues.  Brian and I want to do all that we can to love them and lead them-and that includes reading...all...the...time.


Recently, I finished reading the most wonderful book called Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and I by Lorilee Craker.  It is so amazing as it pairs two things I love- Anne of Green Gables and understanding the heart of those considered "orphans" by society-those with who are hurting.  I would love to write and write and write about this book...but that isn't what's on my heart. 

Recently, I read a chapter about Matthew Cuthbert, the most unlikely, unassuming, and unsung father figure in literature.  While reading it, I may have sat in a coffee house in Moldova's capitol city and balled my little eyes out.  It made me feel eternally grateful for the amazing men who have loved me and loved others so well.  There isn't enough room on this blog for me to thank every father like figure...but there is room to hit a few highlights


Daddy-
I am from the south.  I love that I am from the south and from a family of salt of the earth country people.  People who love big.  In the south, we don't call our fathers "dad" or "father"...good southern girls say daddy.  I can remember my favorite thing as a child was cutting grass with my daddy.  I always felt like a princess riding along with him, wearing his work cap or my favorite cowboy hat.  I loved that special time just with him.  My dad was not a perfect father.  I was not a perfect daughter.  But, we sure loved each other.  Most of my memories of him make me laugh and smile so big.  He was just the kind of person who loved to make people smile and he loved to have a good time.  At my father's funeral, all I could think about was the big life that my daddy had lived.  Full of adventures and laughs and trials.  He had loved big.  He had loved me big. I foolishly thought for most of my life that my father didn't love me as much as he loved my siblings.  By the time I was a teenager, he had raised my brother and sister and was tired.  He wasn't very present then because he was struggling with so much personally.  Some of my most precious times with my father (and my brother) were over the last ten years.  He was very sick the last ten years and we had lots of one on one time in the hospital.  It was as if my wild, larger than life daddy became softer and more introspective.  He would share so much love and words of wisdom with me.  So many times he told me he loved me and was proud of me-things I had longed to hear as a teenager.  Many times my daddy told me, that he knew that God was using his sickness and pain to bring his family together and he felt like that made it worth it....and he meant it...and it did.  God used my daddy's health and even his death to bring us all closer.  At his funeral, the thing that meant the most to me was that every single person that came through the line asked if I was "the daughter that was a missionary".  They would then tell me how proud he was of me and how he talked about me all the time.  That man loved me and my brother and sister BIG.  He loved BIG and He lived BIG.

My pepaw.
If you have read my blog at all.  You have read about my grandparents.  My grandfather took me on my first ever mission trip when I was 12- with Carpenters for Christ. I didn't call him grandfather or grandpa...nope he was too special for that.  He was papaw.  My Pepaw was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God...and He served Him with all that he was.  With my pepaw, I always felt safe, loved, and special.  He was one of my earliest heroes.  This man loved others so well.  He was always willing to get up early and drive a bazillion miles to be with a friend in need.  When he passed away, I had the extreme honor of speaking at his funeral.  It was my first time to loose someone I loved so dear.  But, I KNEW that I had to share about him.  I knew that so many in the church knew God because my grandfather had introduced them.  I was his darling and he was my pepaw. I wish that he were alive.  He would love these girls of ours so much.  I think he would have gotten over his aversion of flying just to come meet his new and precious extended family.  He loved family.


Chuckles.
I wasn't raised Catholic.  But, I had a godfather. No, I'm not Italian either.  Just blessed.  When I was christened as a child, my mother chose her childhood friend and her friend's husband to be my godparents.  They had a baby girl that was born the year before...and they just took me as part of their family as well.  So many of my childhood memories consist of my godparents.  Trips to Knoxville.  To the Worlds Fair.  So many amazing memories with my extra family...and my Godfather:) He was not like a Corleone at all.  He is warm, caring, and servant-hearted and loves Jesus so much.  Every major life event I have ever experienced, Chuckles has been there.  (That's our nickname for him).  My birth, my christening, my high school graduation, my wedding, my grandparent's funerals and so many more.  He loved my father dearly.  Chuckles rushed to be at my side when my father was dying.  In fact, within five minutes of his arriving, my father passed.  I think my daddy waited so Chuckles could be there to hold me...yet again, Chuckles was there to hold my hand and love me through a major life event.  He and his wife helped me get organized and prepare myself for what life is like when you lose a parent.  Thankfully, God knew I needed many parent figures in my life and He gave me a Chuckles.  My godfather is so good at making the stranger a friend...and helping people belong.

Smell good man.
 I wont say his name here...because he is not the kind of man who needs praise and adoration.  He is a simple kind of man with a big love for his people.  He was the father of one of my dearest friends in high school...and when I was going through a particularly rough period during the summer of my senior year in high school, he loved me (and all of our friends) like we were his own. My parents were divorcing and it felt like quite a surprise to me and it also made me second guess everything about myself.  Divorce can do that.  In a period of time when I was quite the opposite of my typically easy going, lovable, outgoing self....this man looked at me and didn't see hurt....didn't see brokenness...didn't see the mistakes piling up....He saw sparkle.  He saw light.  He saw beauty and he (and his sweet wife) loved me through one of the hardest times in my life.  I was broken and I didn't want anything to do with anyone. And this precious man...who always smells of Brut cologne, just loved me right where I was.  To this day, every time I smell Brut cologne, I am filled with the sweetest memories of this man. When I see him and his sweet wife, I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years and right into the arms of this father-figure who walked through the valley with me.  I don't even know if he knows how much his presence has meant to me.  When my own father passed away earlier this year, it was so incredibly difficult.  But, this sweet man stood in the long visitation line just to come give me, one of his adopted (if not ragamuffin) children, a hug and to let her know that he cared. and that I was still sparkles!  Gosh, I wanna love others like that.

Brian
My sweet Brian has not been like a father to me personally...but he is like a father to our precious girls.  They don't refer to him as father or dad...they just call him Brian.  But, they know that Brian means a whole lot to them.  Brian is constantly going and working and they know that every thing he does, he does for them.  They love Brian.  He is kind and patient and personifies Christ's love.  I love that our girls have this example of a godly man.  I love that they see that you don't have to be loud and proud and a boss to be a godly man.  You can be kind and hard working and love God and others.  I love seeing Brian taking care of our girls.  He loves them so much.  He would do anything for them.  He would do anything to protect them.  He was born to be here....to live out who he is....to just be Brian to these girls of ours.  My buddy loves big and serves with his whole heart.  He reminds me so much of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables




Webster's dictionary has several definitions of father...but the one definition that stands out the most to me and is so much more than someone who shares genetics (and also defines these five men I have written about) is this:
father (noun)- someone who takes care of or protects someone or something.

All five of these men have done this for me and the people I love.  I am so thankful for fathers of all kinds.    Happy Father's Day!!!

"Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted.  We all want to belong.  He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us.  He never forgets the children whose names are written on the palm of His hand.  God makes us belong.  He is enough.  At every bend in the road, our father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms.  And we are orphans no more"   -Lorilee Craker


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Microwave Mom

Friday, May 6, 2016

This sunday is a special holiday in America.  Its one that has always left me full of a variety of emotions.  Its Mothers' Day.  My friend, Leslie Word, has always been so amazing and supportive of all types of mothers on this day.  Every year she has posted about all the different types of mothers that exist in this world....and I have felt so hesitant to believe what she wrote.  I felt hesitant to step in to my own role as a "mother".  The fact that I want to type it in quotes is evidence of the fact that I haven't felt like enough-not smart enough, not together enough, not good enough, not mother enough...I have feared judgement in allowing myself to say "I am a mother".  I have feared what people will say or how they will react.  I realized today that I bought in to the world's definition of what a mother is...and its a lie.  I have negated anything that I have done because I don't have children that share my DNA or even my last name.  I have felt that it might be pretentious to allow myself to be called mother.  But, today...and this Mother's Day weekend....I am going to lean in to my role as mother (without quotations marks).  I am NOT going to regale you all with the amazing things I do each day-that would be fiction.  Because, I honestly fail miserably at this mothering thing most days.  I just want to share my thoughts on the coming of my very first "Mother's Day" as a "mom". (OK-old habits die hard- the quotes make me feel safe). Please allow me the space and grace to call myself a mother if only for this weekend-I will try to allow myself the same space and grace.


If motherhood happened the same way we cook...I would be a microwave mother.  I didn't have the long time to prepare and learn and read and dream- like a slow cooker.   Nor, did I have just the average ole length of time with convection currents to make sure everything was just right before the timer went off..  No sir, God has a sense of humor.  Overnight, I became a mother to 18 (actually 31) teenage girls and not just any teenage girls-Teenage girls who had spent most of their adolescence in state run orphanages.  They are the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given- and I am terrified of messing up.  I think that's normal for a mother.  I just lean into God and say- I hope you have this God, because I have no idea what I am doing.

 I have become obsessed with books about parenting adolescents, parenting the hurting child, the orphan's heart, and all the popular titles that help me learn how to do this in a good and Godly way.   I crave time to myself...and yet miss them terribly when I have five minutes alone.  A quiet house doesn't soothe my soul...it makes me wonder where they are and what they are up to:).   I feel the weight of every single decision I make...I constantly ask myself---"how will this affect their future?".  I am a microwave mom.  It happened so quick...but so full of God's presence.   It was like overnight God gave me this magical ability to see truth, see beauty, see needs, and recognize when someone is being less than truthful:) 

 I am not their mother by DNA or by any legal documents.  They don't call me mom.  By the world's standards, I am no mother.  But, I still have the daily responsibilities of a mother.  To love them, guide them, provide for them, comfort them when life throws curveballs (which the teenage years are wrought with curve balls).  What an honor it is to have this role...even if I'm not a proper "mom".  I am thankful to the women who gave them life, and to the women who sustained them until this point....and to the women who continue to pour into their lives....it really does take a village....and honestly...there is no such thing as "my" children or "your" children....They are all our children...and our decisions matter to all of "OUR" children in this world---no matter if you are a microwave mom or not.  This is not the way I imagined I would come in to "motherhood"...not at all....but I cannot imagine being anywhere else....of course as I type this ode to my dear ones and the role they have given me...the music is getting louder and the voices are disagreeing on the style of music...because...struggles:)  I love this family of mine....who call me by one name- Kathryn.  Just Kathryn---but oh it sounds lovely and like so much more than just "Kathryn" coming from these voices of the ones I hold dear.

Happy Mother's Day to me....what a privilege it is to be a mother to these loud and beautiful and emotional and crazy brilliant girls!!!

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Mom moment

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dear ones....I am so sorry that my blog posts are so infrequent.  But, I know that you all will forgive me (and by you all, I mean my mom, Courtney, and Mandy---love yall!).  Anyhow...some days there are soo many feelings I want to share with you.  Some days the feelings feel so big that no words could ever capture them....and some days they feel so special and personal that I am not sure I could share.  But, let me tell you this....God is in every feeling I have here.  When I feel sad, He comforts me.  When I feel scared, He holds me.  When I feel hopeful and excited, He is cheering with me. God is good.  He is so good.  Let me tell you about something I have been feeling lately....and how God multiplied it and made it beautiful:)

You all know we live in a house with 16 girls...ok...its 18, now.  Our home is full to the brim of every kind of emotion you can imagine.  It is a loud and proud house.  (I fit right in).  Anyhow, teenage girls like to eat.  In case you didn't know this-They do.  They like to diet for a day---then, eat everything in the house.  Its real.  Lately, I feel like every time I am outside of the house one of them is calling me and asking for ice cream, or chips, or milk, or cookies, or something sweet.  I haven't thought much of it.  Last night, Brian and I took some guests to the mall.  While we were there, two or three of our girls called and wanted to know where we were, how long we would be gone, when we would be home, AND if we could bring them some food home.  For a split second, I thought-Goodness gracious-I feel like every time I leave the house someone is calling and wanting me to pick up this or get that or find food.  I felt flustered for all of two seconds.  Then, God (in all of His infinite wisdom) whispered to my heart....Kathryn, this is a Mom's life.   And y'all.  It broke me.  I felt sooooo incredibly full of His grace and Mercy....I felt so humbled and honored that He would let me have some tiny little role in the lives of 18 or so of the most amazing human beings who ever walked this planet.
 I know I am not their mother....but He is letting me love them and serve them like a mother....and for that....for that and all of its endless tasks and demands....I am so grateful.  I may have cried a bit in the Fourchette.  Last night, when Brian and I finally returned home after several hours away, we were met with smiles so big and hugs so massive--That had nothing to do with the goodies we had in our bags.  Last night, I felt like I could not get home quick enough to lay eyes on our dear little family.  I felt like I just needed to see them and be with them....and here their melodious and loud laughter.....to hear about their days....to hear their jokes....to see their eyes light up.  There is nothing sweeter than stepping out for a moment and then stepping back in to a home where I know love lives.  Our house is not perfect and we have such a long way to go in this role as House Parents.  But, y'all....I love it.  God made us for this.  For however long this part of our journey lasts...I want to savor every feeling God gives me....even if they make me cry in the middle of Moldovan grocery stores.  I love this role He has for me.  Please pray that I can live every moment in full awareness of the goodness of His plan...that I never tire of the joy and struggle that is loving these 18 girls.  Thank you Jesus for picking us!

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Party of 18

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  Parenting teenagers is not for the weary of mind.  You have to be tough and smart.   I applaud all of you who have been doing this work-this joy giving, heart wrenching, frustrating, emotionally driven, life breathing, hilariously wonderful thing called parenting.  I'm new to it, so I am sure some day I will look back and laugh at my naivety and I am sure you parenting veterans will find flaw...but bear with me:)

Brian and I are now experiencing parenthood for the first time....in a way that is quite different than anything we ever expected. It is not your conventional "family structure" -but our family is ours just the same.  We are responsible for the love and care every single day....and they outnumber us....and they are all teenage girls....and they all speak a language/culture that is not our first language. Its real, y'all.  There are always attitudes, tears, perceived injustices, urgent needs that must be met...and there are always hugs to give and receive, encouragements to share, special notes or surprises, lessons to teach and learn- A parent's job never ends. 

I am going to be real with you all....even in the moments where I feel at the craziest end of my rope...I love it.  Even when I secretly want to hide out for just a moment of peace...I would not change one thing about my temperamental little family here.  We are a family...a party of 18.  Do you know if there are any really good books about parenting 18 teenage girls...all at the same time?  Perhaps I should contact that famous TV family that keeps on counting.  Maybe they could offer wisdom.

Yeah.  So parenting in our home can sometimes be a little tough.  But I truly believe that God equips the called and He has been showing up everyday and giving us the tools we need.  Have we mastered parenting in just a few short months?  Um.  NO!  We are daily praying- DEAR JESUS PLEASE OH PLEASE SHOW US WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO DO THIS ALL YOUR WAY. Some days-I think...God, we totally rocked that...like I just parented like someone who has been a parent many many years!!!  When I hear myself offering wisdom that does not sound like anything my peabrain could find...I say...THANK YOU JESUS FOR THAT....and I remember that anything good in me, is NOT Kathryn.  It is God. 

So-like I said- parenting is new to us.  I like to try to use all that I learned in my three educational degrees...but theory and practice are often very different....all those times I thought..."when I have children, I won't_____" Have been thrown out the door!  Picking battles is my new skill...ok...so I haven't mastered it yet...but I'm working on it.  There are always those who love to challenge rules or decisions...multiply that times Moldova.  Seriously-Moldovans have a tendency towards rule bending-even our youth pastor told me that. Every rule has a way around it here.  And my 16 lovelies are very fond of sharing their opinion on what things we need to improve...or how I should discipline other girls.  Its loads of fun...and super tiring. 

This week we had a moment that parents fear.  We had a past curfew, non-caller, unable to locate situation.  My heart was beating out of my chest and I was praying angels and hedges and pretty much just saying words that made no sense to me -but God knew....I was so worried that our dear one was somewhere hurt or alone or just feeling alone.  My whole being ached.  I was full of fear...but I knew that I need not be -because God had her in the palm of His hands.  Ten minutes felt like ten years...but, thankfully, we found our dear one (I will spare you all the details).  When I laid eyes on her precious face, I just burst into tears and held her so tight....and told her "I LOVE YOU SOO MUCH!! I have been praying so hard for you...I love you. I love you. I love you"  I know that Brian and I will make mistakes in this.  I know we will have more scary moments.  I know I will fail miserably some most days...but I want to always always depend on Him...the good, good father to get me through it.  This new role of ours is teaching sooo much about God as father-the perfect parent.  Brian and I love these girls.  They are our family.  I won't say that we love them like they were are own.  They are our family.(PERIOD!).  I just wanted to let you in on our little secret.  Our family is growing...The two have now become 18 (really there are 18 more girls next door who are ours as well...but I just wanted to tell you about the ones who are "under my roof"...yep I have used the phrase as long as you are "under my roof".  Parenting skills level-novice)

Guys.  I would love your continued prayer in this journey.  Life in Moldova has not been easy...but lives worth living rarely are.  Pray that we can walk every step of this out with Him.  That our Good Father will guide our every step and show us both how to love His children and How to grow them stronger in Him. 

All you parents.  (Especially the three of you who actually read my blog-mom, Courtney, and Mandy).  I salute you and all the self doubt, joy, fear, frustration, beauty, and amazing love of God that you have all experienced so far in your path of parenting.  Thank you for being examples for me...and for also keeping me a bit sane. 

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Granny:)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today would have been my spunky granny's birthday:)  Four years ago on this date, I wrote a blog about her impact on my life and how she taught me about missions.  At the time, I had no idea what the future held for Brian and I.  This past year has been an amazing, beautiful, trying, difficult, growing year.  And I know my Granny and Pepaw have been watching every step.  Rejoicing in our triumphs and whispering to the Father on our behalf when we are tired or confused or just in need of Him.  I know that my grandparents would have been so proud of the road that Brian and I have taken.  They were always proud of me no matter what.  Today on what would have been her birthday, I would like to revisit a post I wrote about her four years ago.  Remember----I wrote all of this four years ago....


Me, My Granny and My Momma at my Granny's nursing home in 2010.
My story of Moldova continues...but I would like to take a quick detour to remember my Granny, Wilma Sasser.  Today would have been her 82nd birthday.   My Granny and my pepaw (yes that is what I called my grandfather) are important to this Moldova missions story for many reasons...My Granny passed away this April after a valiant battle with Alzheimers.  Alzheimers took her memory of her family and friends...but not of her HOLY Father!  She could sing every word to her favorite hymns up until the very end....and she knew she loved Jesus.  I had the PRIVILEGE of assisting the pastors in delivering her Eulogy.  My grandparents were two of the MOST amazing people I ever knew.  Most of who I am today I owe to them in some way or another.  My grandparents were Godly people who always put serving others at the top of their priority list (whether it was driving a sick friend to the hospital, taking someone a meal, or just stopping by to say hello).  They loved God and they loved people and His love and joy SHONE through them.  They were just amazing...and I need you to know the two important connections that they have to Moldova.  One...my Pepaw and Granny made sure that I knew who Jesus was from an early age...and they made sure that I had a close relationship with Him.  (They did this by reading the bible with me, teaching my sunday school class, taking me to every VBS in town, and just being amazing examples).  Had they not taught me (and my mother...she is important to my walk too) about Him, who knows what my life would be?  My grandparents were Southern Baptists...and they always participated in the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon mission offerings.  They would put their plastic rice bowls out and model saving additional money for missions for me...we would talk about missionaries in far off lands around the dinner table.  My granny and pepaw had the biggest hearts for missions of any one I know.  They saved for missions...and they lived out missions in their lives.  In fact, when I was 13 they took me on my VERY FIRST mission trip.  We went to Western Kentucky to help build a church with Carpenters for Christ.  But you know what else my granny did?  She made sure that I had a chance to go serve in inner city Louisville.  Because she knew that I saw a need for relationship building...not just church building.  That woman KNEW my heart.  She knew I needed to connect with people who needed to know the Love of the Father.  That mission trip lit a fire for missions in my heart....In high school and college I volunteered and worked regularly for another mission organization, Appalachia Service Project...My Grandparents introduced me to serving others and serving Him in missions...it was all part of the Dream Givers plan (if you haven't already...consider reading Bruce Wilkinson's The Dream Giver)...I am looking forward to how His plan for my life continues to unfold.  I know that my Granny regularly talked with the Dream Giver Himself on my behalf.  On the flight over to Moldova...I had the strangest feeling of warmth come over me...and I looked over at Brian and I said..."you know what B?  Granny and Pepaw would be so proud of me following His call to serve for a short-term mission trip in Moldova."
  
He continues to call.  How will I answer?

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Pondering it in my heart

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yesterday....after a long, tiring, yet rejuvenating  day trip to Iasi, Romania. I, for the first time in months, felt like I could truly reflect on all of the beauty God has placed in my life....I had gotten so busy and stressed with the day to day....that I forgot to soak up every moment.  I forgot to slow my mind and my heart down and truly embrace the here and now....that God is giving me....every single moment is a here and now.  It was like for just a moment, the film was removed from my eyes and I could see the ethereal beauty of His creation all around me....and my heart was so full...I was reminded of all of the special people God has placed in my life...in my family here in Moldova.  I am so incredibly grateful.  Here are the things I thought:

Sometimes moments overwhelm me-they literally take my breath away- and I find myself grasping at them wanting to soak up every single detail of the moment before it slips from my clumsy fingertips. The details....the sunset shining in and through someone's smile....the warmth in their eyes as they shoulder a friend's head to allow them to sleep on a long journey...the green rolling hills of Moldova dancing in the background of every moment...dotted with earth so rich and dark....special smiles that I am beginning to decipher or the way they use their eyes to communicate so much...sweet eyelids slowly blinking to let me know the answer is a definite yes to the question "do you want chocolate?"

Time stand still-please don't let me rush through another day- let me notice the tiny scars on beloved hands and remember the stories that brought them there...let me look at the radiant faces and hands stained red with cherry juices from the hundreds of cherries they have lovingly pitted to store up for the winter.  

Let me remember every little hand (or bigger hand) as it reaches for mine and gently entwines fingers in a show of supreme love and acceptance.  

Let me never forget: the honey colored wheat fields gently swaying and dancing and looking like a blanket of feathery gentleness-inviting us all in.  The sunflowers and the privilege of watching them grow taller and stronger and prouder...and watching them daily turn their heads to the sun.  

Oh Lord, etch in my heart brown eyes with chocolaty flecks of mischief mixed with honey and warmth.  Green eyes the color of Moldovan forests right after the rain-proud and reminiscent of all that is lovely. Beaming smiles with dimples so deep to hide more joy. Long eyelashes that softly brush sunkissed cheeks as they sleep on the long and bumpy ride in from the village.

Riding down dusty country roads in an air condition-less van, windows rolled down.  Our hair beating our faces.  Singing bits of all of our favorite Romanian hymns loud and off key--but feeling His divine presence and His love in a real and tangible way.  Laughing....belly laughing....about nothing at all.

Using the two arms that the good Lord gave me to just hold on...to hold on to dry tears, to remove sadness, to pray over broken hearts, to show love....to pray that God would just continue to use this weak and imperfect vessel to show His love and His warmth.  Lord don't let me forget the privilege that it is to dry tears, to celebrate successes of all sizes, to dream for someone else's future.  Lord don't let me stop being thankful for the parents who gave life to all of these beautiful faces around me.  

I never want to forget conspiratorial sharing of secret stashes of Reese's.  Sweating in a hot little kitchen while the strawberry cake or muffins of whatever delicious baked good we have attempted cooks and fills the house with its delightful aroma and promises of goodness to come.

Lord...open my eyes to the here and now.  The last few months in Moldova have been busy and tough...but God reminded me of all of the sweetness in the midst of hard times.

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Isaiah 43

Saturday, May 30, 2015

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;


     I have loved this passage in scripture for as long as I can remember.  I loved it when I was in college and we sang it in the crisp air of the Appalachian mountains.  I was covered head to toe with dirt from the construction ministry I was a part of...but I was also covered head to toe in the assurance that my God loves me...and He would be with me.  He was with 19 year old Kathryn just like He is with almost 35 (cough cough) year old Kathryn.    This verse has always offered me so much comfort because it doesn't say "IF you pass through the fire...or the river or the waters."  It says WHEN you pass through these things, He WILL be with you.  Problems and troubles in life will come...but He promises to get us through the fire and through the thunderous river.  He even says we won't be harmed or over taken.
      I actually shared this scripture at our little church last week.  I told the story of my 19 year old self always wondering if I was going to have enough to make it....enough time to finish class work, enough gas to make it anywhere, enough money to pay my bills, enough love to forgive someone, enough courage to live my life the way He called me to.  I just constantly wondered if my tank was full...if what I had was sufficient.  I found myself constantly thinking things like..."I can't do this anymore"  (insert your own *this*- be with people who hurt you, be sick, walk through the destruction of divorce, see good people be hurt, etc.  everyone's *this* is different).  Immediately after I shared about this verse and being able to keep going....God put a memory in my heart.    I would like to share it with you....I promise I will tie it all together as best as I can:)  But, you all know I can ramble.
   ***WARNING-This may turn your stomach.
On Memorial Day in 1994 ( I was almost 14), I was in a very bad boating accident.  There was an explosion, battery acid, and lots of fire and the majority of that damaged my legs greatly.  There was an explosion in the boat I was in...and fire ran down the backs of my legs.  I was stunned and in shock.  I stood there with flesh hanging from my legs....and the boat on fire...and I could't move.  My brother was able to jump back in the boat and push me into the muddy lake water surrounding our boat.  The smell of gasoline and fire filled the air.  I knew I was in pain, but I couldn't process any of it...and by the time I swam to the pier, my brother was there waiting to pull me out.  As we pulled me out, the grotesque smell of burnt flesh assailed my senses and the pain became real.  I looked down at my legs and was horrified.  There was flesh, angry and singed, hanging limply from all over my legs.  I reached down and attempted to hold on to it all and I began to run.  The both funny and profound thing about this story is that I clearly remember running down the pier...and I clearly remember crying and believing that I was paralyzed as I ran.  I knew that the injuries were serious...and I knew that my legs should't be working....so I just immediately thought...I am paralyzed.  I have always found this memory so humorous...but then last week...I cried out to God about a particular situation in our lives and I said " God, I can't do this.  I can't go on in this situation"  In essence I was telling God that I was paralyzed.  And then God, being His truly infinitely wise self, brought the memory of my boating accident to mind...and this time when I remembered the bit where I thought I was paralyzed as I was running down the pier....God used it to show me something new....sometimes when we are in the middle of the fire...the rushing river...the tough parts of life, we cry out to God and say "GOD!!  I can't do this.  I am paralyzed!"  But usually, in the midst of crying out that we can't....we are doing the very thing we say we can't do....as I was telling God that I was paralyzed...that I could't walk anymore...I was RUNNING!  When I was telling God I couldn't bear a certain situation any longer...I was bearing...moving on...living because He was with me and He is with me!!  That is good news for me...and I pray that it changes my perspective in the trials of life...when I cry out to God He is ALREADY there with me...When I tell Him I can't do this or that any longer...He looks at me and smiles and says...but you are doing that very thing right now.  He says "You can because I am here- do not fear....I have redeemed you!!"  AMEN!!

Side note-if you are interested in reading about my boating accident from my mother's perspective...you can here, she loves to write its in four parts:)  You guys just thought I was wordy:)  :

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Just a quick thought on gifts

Friday, April 24, 2015

Today I began a short Bible Study series on RightNow Media by Jen Hatmaker.  It is called Pulling the Thread.  As part of the study, I read the verse "To whom much is given, much is expected..."
For the first time EVER I realized it isn't just about money and physical, tangible resources...to whom much love is given...much love will be expected....even when someone doesn't seem lovable...much love will be expected...to whom much wisdom is given....much wisdom will be needed....demanded....to whom much patience is given...God will provide plenty of opportunities to practice it.

 I am praying that God uses the gifts and talents and resources He has given us...that He uses us up to the last drop.  It is tiring when God expects us to give back the talents and passions He gave us....but I want to live my life knowing that I have not withheld the gifts He gave me....that I have not withheld love or patience from any single person.  I know I will fail miserably at this most days....But, I am praying this for all of it....That God will provide us with opportunities to use what we have an excess of...that He will want us to pour out our gifts and resources on others.  I pray that we will pour all that we have out on His children without fear....fear of failure, fear of condemnation, fear of broken relationships....fear of the unknown.  YOU HAVE GIVEN US EXCESS LORD-HELP US USE IT FOR YOUR GLORY!!!!

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Thrive

Monday, April 20, 2015

This last week, at our home church in Alabama, there was a Casting Crowns concert.  My Facebook feed was dotted with posts from the concert.  Many of them included a particular song..."Thrive".  I realized that I had been listening to it a lot too....but Saturday I decided to really listen to it-Not just sing words out in to the air....but to let the lyrics penetrate my heart.   And they did just that.
 Every Sunday at ten, we have a special prayer time before the service.  We take prayer requests, we pray for our church, we pray for each other and we just stand together and hand it all over to God and say-Here God.  We want you to have these.  We would rather put all these requests and hopes and fears in your hands than any where else.  It never fails, every Sunday, I rush over and struggle to get my head and heart in the right place.....and then God moves in.  He ALWAYS meets me where I am.  But, every Sunday, with heads bowed...in a dark and quiet church....holding hands with my Moldovan family....I feel Him in the most tangible way....when I am calling out to Him to pour His spirit out on our church....He does just that....He pours it out....and I FEEL IT!  When I cry out to Him in authenticity right where I am....He is there.  He knows when my heart and my spirit are genuinely seeking Him.  Friends, I wish I could bottle up that feeling and ship it to you...I would send it along with a postcard from Moldova....and you would open it up and be flooded with His love and you would want to stay in that moment forever.  Ahh....when you are truly aware of His love being poured out on you...it is good stuff.  It pushes me beyond just living..just surviving.
  This Sunday I was responsible for leading our service (just MCing).  I had spent the previous day listening to Thrive and I couldn't shake it and felt like I needed to share it with our church....a church full of young people longing to know Him more.  I decided I MUST share the lyrics to the song.  Here they are in English (And Romanian):

"Thrive"
Here in this worn and weary land
(În această lume devastată și ostenită)
Where many a dream has died
(În care multe vise au fost ruinate)
Like a tree planted by the water
(Asemenea unui pomp sădit lângă apă)
We never will run dry
(Nu ne vom usca niciodata)
So living water flowing through
(Ca după apa vie care curge)
God we thirst for more of You
(Dumnezeule, suntem însetați după Tine)
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
(Umple-ne inimile și inundă-ne sufletele)
With one desire
(Cu o singură dorință)
Just to know You and to make You known
(Să Te cunoaștem și Te facem cunoscut)
We lift Your name on High
(Înălțăm numele Tău)
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
(Strălucind ca soarele faci întunericul dispară)
We know we were made for so much more
(Noi știm am fost făcuți pentru mult mai mult)
Than ordinary lives
(decât pentru a trăi vieți obișnuite)
It's time for us to more than just survive
(E timpul pentru ceva mai mult decât a supraviețui)
We were made to thrive
(Am fost creați prosperăm)

Into Your word we're digging deep
(Ne adâncim în Cuvântul Tău)
To know our Father's heart
(Să cunoaștem inima Tatălui)
Into the world we're reaching out
(Ne îndreptăm către lume)
To show them who You are
(Pentru a Te face cunoscut)

So living water flowing through
(Ca după apa vie care curge)
God we thirst for more of You
(Dumnezeule, suntem însetați după Tine)
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
(Umple-ne inimile și inundă-ne sufletele)
With one desire
(Cu o singură dorință)

Just to know You and to make You known
( Te cunoaștem și Te facem cunoscut)
We lift Your name on High
Înălțăm numele Tău)
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
(Strălucind ca soarele faci întunericul dispară)
We know we were made for so much more
(Noi știm am fost făcuți pentru mult mai mult)
Than ordinary lives
(decât pentru a trăi vieți obișnuite)
It's time for us to more than just survive
(E timpul pentru ceva mai mult decât a supraviețui)
We were made to th(rive
(Am fost creați prosperăm)

Joy Unspeakable, Faith Unsinkable, Love Unstoppable, Anything is possible
(Bucurie de neexprimat, Credință de nescufundat, Dragoste de neoprit, Totul este posibil)

Just to know You and to make You known
( Te cunoaștem și Te facem cunoscut)
We lift Your name on High
(Înălțăm numele Tău)
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
(Strălucind ca soarele faci întunericul dispară)
We know we were made for so much more
(Noi știm am fost făcuți pentru mult mai mult)
Than ordinary lives
(decât pentru a trăi vieți obișnuite)
It's time for us to more than just survive
(E timpul pentru ceva mai mult decât a supraviețui)
We were made to thrive
(Am fost creați prosperăm)
I love this song....I shared it with our church (which is predominantly young people in their teens and very early twenties.)  God had pressed this in to my heart.  I can remember so many times in my life when I was just waiting for the next thing....waiting for Friday to come so I could enjoy the weekend.  Waiting for the next thing whether it be a vacation, a new movie, a visit with a friend.  But, I felt so convicted by this.  When I live waiting for the next big thing.  I am not fully living right now...I am not thriving....I'm just surviving from event to event...I  am missing out on so much!  I feel like I have been surviving from  Sunday to Sunday -when I would actually still my heart and ask God to fill up the church and pour into me.  I don't want to Survive on powerful Sunday meetings with God....I want more of Him every single day.  I want to do more than just survive and get by...I want to Thrive in Him.  I want to know that I am a tree planted by a river....I will never run dry.  I want to let His water flow to my very roots...every....single....day.  Whew!  Pray for me yall!  I am praying this for all of us.  Pray it for our church....pray that we will stand up...to get out of our comfy chairs or pews and start THRIVING.  I know that God has big plans for Moldova and I KNOW He is going to change this nation with the very young people that surround me at church every Sunday....pray that He starts pushing them beyond survival...which is all that some of them have known in their physical and emotional lives...pray that He starts meeting all those needs....and that they push beyond it and begin THRIVING....PROSPERING in the life He has for them.

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