Saturday, June 13, 2015

Let the Belizian journey begin!!!

Sometimes, you can completely anticipate what is coming. You can spend months, weeks even years preparing your heart and mind and soul for a thing and once it arrives, you're perfectly ready and prepared to face the journey. 

Sometimes reality sneaks up on you. Even with all of the planning and preparing, the day is so far off and then suddenly you're awake at 3am to follow the hand and voice of the Lord into the depths of the unknown. 

I'm going right now. I am on a bus to Belize to love and serve and pursue the heart of God through his creation and treasures in this place. 

Going Seems almost routine for me. I've been going on mission trips for the past 12 years. None of this process is foreign to me. I'm comfortable with the travel, with the discomfort that comes from being in an underdeveloped place, with being flexible and running raggedly thin. I know this drill and I am confident of my ability and capacity for being this instrument of God's love and heart and glory for humanity. 

But this morning, there is a weight on my chest, a heightened sense of emotion that is unfamiliar for an experience like this. It's a proclamation that this journey had been ordained from the heavenly realms. It's a promise of the Lord to me that Mighty and powerful acts are to come, and I am allowed and called to bear witness to them all. 

So this morning, I praise the Lord. He has done such a marvelous work in my life. Truly and remarkably He has transformed my heart, mended brokenness, revealed truth and placed upon my shoulders a call that, though inaudible, is deeply rooted within my soul and it drives me! I am so gracious to be in a church body that is actively seeking discipleship and promoting this love on a local, national and global spectrum. And am I ever so thankful for the power of the cross of Jesus Christ! 

There is both a distinctive peace and conviction in knowing the life of a blameless man was beautifully laid down for my own, for all of us in this team and for those we will encounter who do and do not already know Him. What a friend He is to trust me with the beautiful burden of going, moving with His Spirit and proclaiming the truth, calling others unto Him. 

Thank you Father for this call and conviction, and the act of your power that sends me. Today I go, feeling this weight but I am not anxious or worried for what is to come. Over the course of the next 8 days, may I love and serve in a capacity that is beyond what I have ever done or seen. May I and all on this team know your presence, power and might in every moment and may our hearts be bound to your grace in truth in every way!! Thank you for sending us, for sending me out. Make us brave. Fill us with courage and joy that are radiant and unattainable on our own. And Father, break us of our sin and pride that can easily be our hinderance and fix our eyes on the cross of your magnificent, servant son, that we may live for Him and the sacrifice He has made for our souls and freedom. Thank you!! 

To those who will see this, I urge you to pray for our journey and this experience. We fly out of Houston in a few hours and return home on June 20. Thank you for your love and support and the large and small roles you've played in my journey. I can't wait to share this one with you all!!! My faithful God has promised beautiful things and he is FAITHFUL as the dawn!! 

In Grace's Amazing Hands, 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

when peace isn't like a river

I would like to preface this post by simply saying this is literally an overflow of my heart. The past months have been the most challenging times I believe I have ever endured...and I have been through a lot in almost 25 years. But what I have known, still, in the midst of my own chaos and chaos in the lives surrounding me, living and walking with me, is that my God is still here, and when I rest in His name, He fights for me and my brothers and sisters, when we can hardly cling to the truth. 

Hope is coming, sure as the dawn. Darkness will continue to pierce and attempt to bind us, but together we will stand in the fullness of His glory and wait on the day when we'll see His face. Sin will not overtake our hearts, it may knock, but it will be bound from us. Joy shall return. 

So, here is what I want to share about where my community is. Maybe this is where you are too:

Tragedy cuts us all so deep. On our souls, the air weighs heavier than any physical weight we have ever been challenged to hold. Our hearts have been beyond broken...they're shattered, they look helpless. Peace has escaped us and our cries echo into the darkness that grips, fights to rush through and overtake us. We have torn off our clothes of delight and joy, and have become wretched...all we can do is weep. This world looks so ugly and it fiercely screams that it and all in it are against us.

In the furthest depths from sight, clothed in all of our own agony and pain, a small flame flickers and it grows. The fire is fueled by our weakness, by our utter pleas for something, anything to take shape within the mess of these empty caverns once filled by a simple, fragile heart. We can't see it, or feel it, and we are far from any hope of understanding what the fire means, but the fire is fighting for us.

We are all facing giants. There's an utter inability to understand why, or how at once we've all been tested and attacked. When it seems like all we have are one another, and it is well, we're hit, individually so deeply and again a fear pervades our minds that says we are suddenly alone.

These moments that are drown in feelings we can't name or place, are suddenly quenched by the fire. I still can't truly feel the sparks that I know by now have been ignited into a flame, a wildfire that cannot be put to rest. But I have begun to hear. It's not a booming clap of thunder that spells out pretty illustrations of what I've anticipated life to be. But it is the voice of Truth.

In my despair, our despair, our misery and drowning sea of darkness, we are suddenly all together, and holding us, all with our burdens and brokenness, is a Mighty Conqueror, a Beautiful Savior and a Risen King. Here, in this desolation, seeking our hearts, when the depth of our wounds is too great to even, simply cry out His name, is Jesus... And He is standing in victory!!!

Praise His name that we have all had one another on this road. That in a season where we have literally taken blow after blow of bitterness to our own individual souls, we've still had room to unwaveringly cling to our sisterhood. We can't comprehend how we've continued to even put one foot in front of the other, even within we have faced hardship and strikes against our unity.

But all of these things, all brokenness, fight, persecution, suffering, sadness, darkness and gut-wrenching pain have been a test of the prize that is coming to us. Our faithful commitment to selfless and relentless loving of one another has earned us valuable ground in the rings of this fire that is the only thing keeping us going.

And suddenly we realize that together, and with the Son of the Living God in our midst, we are champions for His glory and the mess is stripped to reveal women bathed in righteousness and redemption and perfect, overwhelming peace and rest. It surpasses all of our human understanding long and far, but we know this is alright.

We sit and reflect and realize together that some of us were quickly overtaken by the fire. Others of us have endured the agony for what seems an earthly eternity. But we share in this prize of a faith that has become likened to pure gold.

We no longer see weak and wounded girls, falling quickly as prey to a fierce enemy, but we now stand as women brave and strong, staring headfirst into a destiny commanded by the One who was, is and is to come. And He doesn't just look upon us, He is in our company,  giving shelter and courage to fight back towards the battle that will simply always rage.

He looks upon us with kindness and as daughters who were worthy of His own trial and test. He sees us as fit for a journey more remarkable than those before and He takes us into this beautiful unknown, with the abiding promise that above facing this world together, we're facing it with Him, hand in hand.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

darling i'm a nightmare, dressed like a daydream...

If there were rules for blogging, which required strict following in order to keep your page, I’d have been fired from this whole thing a long time ago. It’s not because I don’t like writing, or because I am a boring person with nothing to say. It’s always on my mind to write my thoughts and feelings and share them with whoever is around to care, and despite what I tell myself, I’m always doing SOMETHING so there is plenty going on to talk about. I’d like to confess that my problem with blogging, and life in general it would seem, is finding time to actually just STOP. I don’t even need to explain that, because if you know me, you have seen this quality first hand, and as much as I wish it were different, it’s something I really wrestle with letting become the simple task that it really just is. I wear a mask of comfort in business and insanity.

Anyways, I realized this week, that I haven’t had anything to proclaim to the world through this blog in almost a year and a half, and what I said last was quite profound (to me at least), at that time. Lately, I’ve experienced every aspect of life differently. As I read back to August 2013, I was in a remarkable place. The Lord was chiseling away and revealing to me what my life in His image looked like. My expectation at that point for bigger and better has certainly been radically surpassed, and I rest in a promise that only GREATER things are to come. It is thrilling, I assure you!

This week, I went to church on Wednesday night, just like I do every week. I went to the youth service, as normal, and I was basically just there. I had no expectation of being needed by a student (for comfort that I could relate to oh, so closely) and I also had no expectation of having a video played again, that on my last trip to Jamaica caused my entire focus and perspective to shift. I was tired from a long day at work, and an early morning workout, and honestly, I was more hungry for earthly nourishment than for the scriptural meat that I was about to receive.

To say that God is awesome is not only obvious, but also a drastic understatement. If I could adequately express how flooring and sweet He has become to me on a daily basis, through His word, promises, encouraging people and much more, it would be magnificent! But what I am sure of is that God has the best motives and intentions, even when I’m weak at the end of the day, and think I’ve had enough. Through seeing this video again, I was reminded of the work that God the Father has done on my image, still chiseling every day. I was reminded that Jesus died so that my image didn’t have to be found in the world and the image the world thrusts upon mesocially, physically…—doesn’t define me, or really even matter in the grand scheme of things. And I was reminded that the Holy Spirit transforms images in major ways, when simply invited in, to do good.

I was reminded that there is a distinct comfort humans have come to find in wearing masks and playing the part of “enough” to and for the world. We each have our own strivings and goals, but how often do we truly seek, intentionality in those things? Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where actual change is what we seek, but most of the time, our change is short lived and only surface level. I’m pretty over that.

What if in 2015, we take off our masks and realize the level of discomfort we should feel from our comfort zones. What if we gave ourselves each day, the same blank space that Almighty God gives us every moment to be satisfied by nothing more than all of him, which is completely enough for all of our broken, mask wearing human nature.

I may not be the biggest fan of Taylor Swift, but she is definitely onto something when she says she “is a nightmare dressed like a daydream”. WE ALL ARE.

Even in the church, we put on pretty masks and faces and fear complete transparency and vulnerability. I mean, it’s really hard and uncomfortable, but is a comfortable life truly fulfilling? Not for me!

Unfortunately, the general church phenomenon of America is complacency towards our problems, and an outward reflection of surface-level caring. It’s pretty heartbreaking and it should disgust us to so passively glorify this multitude of things that are breaking lives and shattering people’s worlds all around us.

I have been remarkably blessed to be involved in a college ministry at my church where these masks hardly exist within the group of people where I spend the majority of my time. I love that I don’t have to be afraid of these people. I have long lived in fear of what others thought of me, neglecting the fact that ultimately, it only matters what the Lord thinks of me, and He made me in His own image! (What more could I possibly desire in my human quest to be “xyz-enough” than to be in the image of the invisible, Almighty God who holds and commands the universe in the palm of his hands?)

I love that every day, we walk intentionally alongside each other with a willingness to express our passions, heartaches and fears, the shortcomings of our pasts and the moments that the world would choose to say have tarnished what we deserve to be. I love that in this newfound fearlessness, I am challenged to understand why the Lord has so radically shifted my perspective of what He has in store for me, and to receive the grace that he has lavished upon me MOMENT BY MOMENT.

People!!! Fullness in Christ alone is as close as the space we allow Him to pervade in our hearts. Intimacy with Jesus is ours for the taking! I love walking with people who want to seek this as much as I do, and who want to push me to seek it deeper than I currently think I understand. It is beyond exciting to live life with people who are seeking to be on the same page with letting the Holy Spirit work us through where we have been and carry us into a glory greater than we can imagine, through our contentment!!

In 2015, I want to learn how to stop! I want to lose the mask I think I NEED to wear that shows my having things all together and put on the hands and feet of Jesus in all that I say and do! I want to be radically convicted of my business and redirected towards a covering of grace and righteousness that reminds me why I do it all in the first place. I don’t want to keep on being a nightmare that’s dressed like a daydream, a pretender and a happy face.
This year, I want to be captivated by the fullness of this grace and abide in a longing expectation of Jesus! 

in grace's amazing hands, 

PS: If you're interested in the video I mentioned, refer to my previous post or search for "God's Chisel Remastered" on YouTube. The video is by the Skit Guys and they have TONS of awesome, thought provoking tools to check out. 

Also, stay tuned, and please encourage/hold me accountable to stay on top of posting! Next up will be something along the lines of what is so amazing about GRACE to me!! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Jamaican Comfort Zone

Hey y'all, this is probably my last blog during my trip to Jamaica and so I just wanted to share what I've been learning while I have been here! This trip has been absolutely incredible and although it’s difficult to know I’m leaving sooner than I originally planned, I know it’s for the best and God has an awesome plan at home for me to dive into.

As I prepared to come and live here, and be submerged in this culture for such a length of time, I never realized how comfortable the Lord would let me become here, in the sense that I have truly felt at home in this place.

I honestly did have moments of skepticism before I left. I would think to myself “Katelyn, can you really go and live in this different culture for a month or more and be okay there apart from everything you know?” But in those moments of doubt, I trusted that this was God’s plan for me to be here. And oh, how sweet His plan has been for me, always, through my entire journey of life.

That’s what I really want to write about today. What I’ve learned during this trip. I didn’t come here to necessarily do any “soul searching” or to “find myself” or any of those big things. I came to Jamaica following my heart, because God has made this place so near and dear to me. I trusted that if I came here obediently I would be used and that He would guide me and help me learn and understand Him more clearly and His plans for me.

Unfortunately, His plans remain a mystery to me. But, the mystery of these plans is what continually captivates me about the Holy Spirit and continues to grow us.

As for being directed and used, I can say 100% without any doubt that I know God has been at work in me and that I have made a difference. Not just because Nel has told me, but because this Jamaican experience has been so unique compared to all of my others.

This time was the most different because of having campers. It was so incredible to be a part of the lives of all the children and teens that came through New Generation Camp this summer. I am thankful for knowing them all and grateful to have met them, as well as the staff members.

The most incredible part was getting to experience the lessons that they all learned. The focus or theme for camps this summer was Identity, and so in their own ways each group focused on teaching campers more about their identity in Christ.

I wouldn’t say that I have struggled with a personal identity crisis or anything like that, but I will admit that the past several months and couple of years I have let my identity be influenced by things outside of Christ and so I didn’t let him entertain 100% of my focus.

I have always been such an advocate for childlike faith, as it is a HUGE part of my personal testimony and I have seen it be so largely and exponentially moving in so many lives. Seeing childlike faith at work again this summer was once again convicting. Through the eyes of children and teens at New Generation Camp, seeing them grow closer in touch with their identity in Christ has been a pleasant reminder that there is much more comfort and security in this identity than a worldly and social one.

Trusting an identity that isn’t centered on Christ creates struggles, doubts, fears and too many other voids in the heart to keep track of. So my commitment as I leave is to keep my identity rooted in Christ, going confidently in Him and knowing that as His child, I am capable of conquering much more than if I try and maintain life on my own.

When my identity is myself, sure I am special and unique, but when my identity is in Christ, I am a Masterpiece that He is constantly pouring into and continually building, it’s a simple choice, I just have to let him in and surrender control to Him.

This all comes back to comfort zones because in Jamaica, I am completely out of control of every aspect of my life and that normally that would be uncomfortable, but because I know God is taking care of it all and I’m here for His purpose and Glory, I am comfortable. I am also convinced there is so much less distraction. Yes it is by choice, because I am in a place where things aren’t as readily available. But the society I come from is so convinced that we can’t live without being the biggest and the best. We are obsessed with complexity.

I don’t want to go home and become obsessed with being complex again and complicate myself to a point where I lose sight of who I should be and where my focus should stay. I also want to be able to trust God as completely at home as I do here. I don’t want to become distracted by society and its expectations.

Obviously this means making sacrifices, but over the past month I’ve confirmed that there are many things I’m so used to having that I certainly don’t need to get by. Not to say that I have to get rid of everything in my life, or that it’s all evil because it isn’t; but I don’t want to be dependent upon worldly things or people for happiness or contentment as I sometimes have in the past. I want those things to come from the Lord and I want to fully trust that He will provide and sustain me with all the other things that I need, and desire to be happy and strongly identified in Him, in the right times that I need those things or people in my life.

I apologize for rambling, but I’ve wanted to just share what’s been on my heart from this trip, and here it is. I can’t wait to be home soon and just be loved by my family and friends there. I miss you all dearly, and I’ll see you soon!!

In Grace’s Amazing Hands,


PS- here’s a video by the Skit Guys—Who I absolutely LOVE—talking about being God’s Masterpiece. It definitely helps define letting your identity be rooted in Christ. Check it out, it definitely made a difference to me!

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Jamaican way of Life

So this time I want to give y'all some details on what camp life is like for me as Nel's assistant and what I get to do besides interacting with the campers. It's really fun but I'm kept very busy. 

I start my days pretty early, sometimes leaving to pick up the cooks at 6:00 so (believe it or not) Im up and awake before then. As soon as the cooks arrive I join them in the kitchen to assist with meal prep for the day, or if Nel picks them up I go down and start getting ready before they arrive! 

Now this may seam un-glamorous, but anyone who knows about my past experiences in Jamaica knows that Mrs. Barbara, the main cook is top notch and my kitchen idol!

Spending time working under Mrs Barbara is possibly one of the best things of being here. She is wise and just a blessing to be around. Being in her kitchen is always a Mary moment because its constant absorption and building up! I've learned many new things to make and ways of doing things to take home from her in these short weeks, and it is so valuable in every sense of the word!!! 

My favorite things to do in the kitchen are make all of the traditional Jamaican meals like dumplings and fritters and calaloo with salt fish, stewpeas with turkey neck, and all f the fresh fruits and veggies we use! Mrs Barbara even grows her own pumpkins here at camp and she is so proud of them! Lots of vegetables are common at home like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, yams and carrots, but some are native to Jamaica like cho cho, a sticky, green thing that leaves a glue over your hands that you spend the rest of the afternoon peeling off. 

My least favorite thing in the kitchen is peeling papayas at breakfast. Not only does it taste horrible, in my opinion but it smells absolutely awful! Basically it smells rotten and I can't see how they eat it and love it so much.. As for fruits I love the mangos and oranges, which aren't actually orange on the outside here. Also bananas and plantains are so plentiful here. We have many banana trees at the campsite. 

I also do a lot of driving for Nel, going into town to the supermarket or wholesale, hardware store or the market to pick up this and that. Driving on the wrong (left) side of the road and car isn't so bad and I'm used to it. The worst thing is I'm just slow compared to everyone else and they're always passing me (overtaking as they say here) and the road to camp is horrible so it takes about 10-15 minutes to travel the 2.5 miles up from the main road. 

Sometimes I'll go to Salem or Priory or St. Ann's Bay or Ocho Rios to pick up this or that and I am amazingly so comfortable remembering where to go and how to do what I need to. I don't feel one bit foreign. Today I picked up a staff member from the bus stop in Ochie and not only did he say I fit in perfectly as a Jamaican driver, apparently I'm a natural, but he also said I don't even drive like a woman! This is said to be a sincerely high complement!!!! 

One thing about driving that I don't get though, is that nobody takes one-way streets seriously. Even Aunty Nel, occasionally defies the warning if it looks all clear. I guess its just another way of life on the island! 

That's all for now!! Love and miss you all!!! 

In Grace's Amazing Hands, 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

my Jamaican birthday post

Greetings y’all! Sorry it’s been so long, but finding time to actually sit and write is difficult and getting to the internet that’s sufficient for posting is just the same!

To fill you in, Tomorrow ends children’s camp and begins the last week and 4th and final New Generation Children’s/Teen camp. Then during the month of August we at the campsite will host various other groups who rent out the site for their own camps.

The groups have been so wonderful. Each so unique and fun, very adventurous and highly entertaining! This trip has been so stretching and different than any of my previous visits here and putting it into words isn’t just cake like you may think!

Although I was most involved in the Ultimate Series Camp for the oldest teens 14-17 years old, and it was a super incredible time to watch them learn and develop spiritually and just to mature as young individuals, I have to say that my favorite group so far has been the Leadership Group the very first session.

These kids are essentially a pre-counselor training group. They do deep leadership and team-building sessions. It was a small group of only 12 youth and they had 2 counselors, I also got to participate with them a lot and definitely related to most of them.

Ultimate was fun too, at first we weren’t sure how many youth we’d have committed to camp, but God provided good numbers and it was a wonderful week. We ended with a trip to Mystic Mountain and I had an incredible outlook on the island, and got my first Jamaican sunburn of my 4 visits to the place. But all is well now.

The Great Adventure (Kid’s Camp) has been fun just because I really love the young children. They’re so loving and absorbent and just eager to learn and be poured into!

All of the children I have met this summer, as well as the peers I have been blessed to work with have been an incredible blessing thus far.

It’s also been wonderful to celebrate my 23rd birthday today in this place. I’ve been fortunate to celebrate my birth in many different places, communities and cultures and this is definitely my favorite so far, just by the love that I feel here, though I am so distant from my home.

Aunty Nel took me to Scotchie’s for Jerk food for lunch and we had Devon House I-Scream afterwards in Ocho Rios. Judith also brought me a piece of Cheesecake when she came in from Kingston for the day. The biggest disappointment of the day is I’ve really wanted a plain Coca Cola and never did get my hands on one. Oh the little things! Oh well, there’s always tomorrow for another small treat!

Missing everyone at home, my family, friends and precious puppy. But I’m still confident that I’m right where I need to be! Loving y’all and hoping that you’re all glad for the update! I’ll be back with you shortly as soon as I can!! Hoping for wonderful adventures in the final week of camp!

If there’s anything you’d really like to know, please feel free to email me at and I’m glad to answer questions and communicate in that way as best I can!!

Please also continue to keep me and New Generation Camp in your prayers!!

In Grace’s Amazing Hands,


Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm In Jamaica, Mon...

So I just wanted to check in with y’all from beautiful Jamaica! I arrived this past Thursday, on the 4th of July after an early morning flight out of DFW and being bumped to the second flight out in Atlanta and upgraded to first class, it was quite nice. Only my bags were delayed but not for long and there was no hassle with customs or immigration at all!

Friday the staff arrived in the evening for staff training camp, so that morning, Nel and I went to St. Ann’s Bay for the market and things and so I could remember where everything is. Amazingly, in a place that is quite unfamiliar, nothing seems too foreign to me. Friday night, quite late, the staff arrived and had dinner, then we all had a quick get to know you moment and went to bed for an early morning on Saturday.

Saturday morning began with everyone breaking up into camp groups and acquainting us and sharing our testimonies. Most of my time here will be working as the facilities assistant and doing various projects for Nel around camp, but I will be serving as a counselor for a week during the Ultimate Adventure camp from July 11-20!

We’ll work with the oldest group of students, age 14-17 and it will be the first official group through for the summer! The other staff for this camp were an amazing group of people and I can’t wait to continue to get to know them and work along side of them!

As Saturday progressed, we had some general orientation and training from Nel and different bonding types of experiences and we ended the day with an evening of prayer and worship at the cross on the top lawn. It was an experience truly unlike any I’ve ever had.

In all of my past trips to Jamaica, we’ve been here as an American team, but this time, I’m totally immersed in this culture and experiencing something completely different and stretching. After only a few days, I honestly miss little, aside from my family and friends at home. But I've literally told EVERYONE here about my dog, I miss him A LOT! He really is special to me and my own little prize! :) (Don't worry mom, dad and Emily, I've shown y'all off too, and Jamaica says I look like daddy and thinks Emily is my twin!)

Today we had our final session of staff training and then the majority of staff traveled home to Kingston. In the morning, Nel and I will also go to Kingston until Wednesday to take care of some administrative things and for final preparations before the long month of non-stop camps begin!

I can’t wait to experience it all and share with you as I’m growing!!!

Until next time, In Grace’s Amazing Hands,