Archive for 2015

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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