I am sleeping again!! Thank you God!!

I want you all to know, that I have been sleeping at night again.  I am falling to sleep a little later, and waking up a little later, but I am sleeping!!

Again, I am not sure why I wasn’t sleeping, and now I am not sure why I am, except for the fact, that some of you were praying for me, and for that I thank you!!

During these times of stress, sickness and the unknown, many of us are experiencing high levels of anxiety for a variety of reasons.  I think sharing those feelings with each other, can really help, as we pray for each other and communicate our concern for each other. 

This ability we have to show the love of God to each other was made clearer to me when I was in my twenties.   I was single and on staff with Cru and had taken a group of students down to Florida to go to a conference over Spring Break.

The speaker was talking about the love of God.  He said that he didn’t think very many people actually experienced God’s love, were filled up with God’s love, and loved others with God’s love.  He said, the world would be a different place, if people really experienced the love of God.

I felt as if the speaker was talking directly to me.  Here I was, on staff with Cru, a Christian organization, talking to others about God’s love, but feeling so empty on the inside.  I was not experiencing God’s love.

I went out onto the balcony of the hotel room, (one I was sharing with 3 women who were at the conference, but were strangers to me, as they were from another college campus).  The room was empty, and I felt the freedom to pour out all my thoughts and feelings to the Lord.

I told Him that I felt empty on the inside, that I felt as if there was this huge hole inside of me that only He could fill, and I desperately wanted to experience His love.  I was crying and crying and crying.   Then I went into the room, splashed cold water on my face, and prepared to go on with my day.

Not too long after this, my roommates came in the room.  One of them came to me and asked to give me a hug.  She said, “ when I was coming up here, Jesus asked me to give you a hug and to tell you, that He lives in me, and when I hug you to tell you, He is really hugging you and that He loves you.”

My tears started to flow again…  Jesus heard my prayer, and He had sent another person—someone who was part of His Body, to tell me that He loved me. That void within me started to be filled.

When my friend Becky Crain died, God showed me His love through the Body of Christ, as they came to help her and her family in their time of need.

When Sean, our son died, Rich and I were comforted by God’s love, which was expressed through the Body of Believers as they came to help us and our family in our time of need.

The speaker, all those years ago, was right—the world would be a different place if we – the Body of Christ—experienced His love and shared that love with others.

Perhaps this is the time we can do just that….  When I came to you all, and told you that I was having problems sleeping, you prayed, God answered those prayers.

Perhaps it is as simple as letting each other know what we need prayers for….  Perhaps it is as simple as giving a hug, (to those we are not social distancing from), or responding to a financial need, or being available to give comfort and sending expressions of love through cards and phone calls.  

God wants us to know He loves us, and many times, He wants us—His body—to be His arms, to give those hugs, and His mouth, to say, “I love you”, and His feet—to run to help. 

Being loved by the eternal God is an amazing thing, and it is cyclical—I honestly think that  as we experience God’s love, we love each other,  and as we love each other we experience God’s love, and on, and on, it goes, and where it stops—well– it never stops!

So Be Encouraged!!

The Gift of Sleep–has been taken away.

Recently, I’ve been having some sleepless nights.  This is a rare event for me—the gift of sleep is something I have enjoyed since I was a baby.  After Sean died, several of my friends, (who are doctors), offered to prescribe me something to sleep.  I told them no, I would be able to sleep— and I did.  I have been given the gift of sleep.

I am not sure why now, of all times, sleep alludes me.  Perhaps, my anxiety levels are so high, that sleep is not a gift I am enjoying these days.

I have been reminded of a story in Genesis, chapter 16.  (My daughter and I read this story recently, as we are reading through Genesis.)  These words struck me again, as they have many times in the past:

“You are the God who sees.”  These are the words of Hagar, Sarai’s slave, whom Sarai gave to Abram as a wife, so Sarai could get a child from Hagar. (This is the first recorded event of a surrogate mother.)  Hagar did get pregnant, and the Bible tells us that Hagar despised her mistress, because Sarai could not get pregnant.  Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so Hagar fled from her.   Hagar ended up alone in the desert, probably facing death for herself and her unborn child.  An Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her to go back.

Hagar was astounded by the thought that the God of Heaven and Earth, would notice her and her plight—that He saw her.

The first time this story struck me, I was 23 years old, and I had moved to Columbus Ohio, starting my first job after graduating from college.

I was so lonely and felt so friendless; I read this story in Genesis and thought that even as God saw Hagar, God saw me.  That thought brought tears to my eyes.  God was seeing me!!  I was not alone; God was with me!

 (I love how the Bible does not sugar coat situations or people—people are presented with their flaws and foibles.  They are presented as people needing the Savior who is to come—in the Old Testament; and the Savior who came—in the New Testament.)

 Hagar’s words— “You are the God, who sees”, reminds me that nothing escapes God’s attention.  He knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, and how many hairs we each have on our heads.  He knows each star by name, and the number of grains of sand on earth.  He is the God who sees.

I have been hearing stories of people dying, (not just by the COVID-19 virus, but just dying).  Stories of women being pregnant, and fearful for their babies and themselves.  Stories of parents being fearful for their children.  Stories of children being fearful for their parents.  There is a lot of fear these days.  Maybe it has been there all along, but now it has made its way to the surface.

Hagar also said, “Truly here, I have seen Him who looks after me.”   Genesis 16:13

God does more than see us, He looks after us.  He takes care of us.  I need to remind myself of all the times God has taken care of me and my family.  God does not change.  He is the same today, as He was yesterday, and will remain the same tomorrow.  He will continue to take care of me and my family.  He will continue to take care of you and your family.

I hope to remind myself of these things.   (Maybe, I will relax enough to be able to sleep.)

I hope to remind any who read this—that the God of Heaven and Earth—is the God who sees and the God who takes care of us.

May we find peace in this thought.  May we find peace in Him!!

May we be encouraged!!

“God is with us through it all.” Becki Crain

20 years ago, in March of 2000, my friend Becki Crain died.   

I met Becki in 1992.  We were in a mom’s bible study, that had 5 women in it.  We all brought our children to the study. At the time, I just had one child, and Becki had 2. Eight years later, I would have 4 children, and Becki –5 children.

As time went on—Becki and I became close friends.  We shared our lives with each other.  We prayed together.  We encouraged each other in our faith.  We were both stay at home moms, and we were trusting God to take care of our families financially and in every way.  Becki used to be a teacher and she taught me how to teach my oldest son how to read.  We started our homeschooling journey together. 

  Becki and I laughed together.   At the end of her life, we were still laughing together.  If she were still alive during this time, I guarantee, we would be laughing together.

I learned so much from Becki.  She believed that God’s word was truer than how she felt, truer than anything.  She believed in God’s love and goodness, even when her life was being taken from her.

She found out she had cancer when she was 5 months pregnant.  The doctors wanted her to start on chemotherapy while she was pregnant, but Becki didn’t think they had enough research –and she wouldn’t risk the baby’s health. 

She died 5 months after her baby was born.   She went over to Germany when her baby was 3 ½ months old for experimental treatments.  They did not work.  She flew back home, saw her baby again, and her family and friends.  I saw her again, and within 24 hours, she was gone.

During the time of her cancer, I got to see the Body of Christ at work in a way I never had before.  I was in a mom’s bible study and the women in it helped me with bringing meals to Becki and her family, and cleaning her house. Becki was not in this Bible Study and these women did not know her.

These women helped me raise money for Becki’s medical expenses, by having a huge garage sale.  The local Christian radio station let us advertise the sale on their radio program.   Hundreds of people donated things to sell at the garage sale.  Hundreds more came to the sale. 

My local church allowed us to have the sale at the church.  This was not Becki’s church.  But I learned—that “We” are all the church.  The church is not a building.

People who did not know Becki sent money.   I saw so many, many, many people show their love and care.  

This outpouring of love, helped me so much when God took Becki home. 

God is love.  God is love.  I got to see this love working through His people.  I literally got to see God’s love. 

 Becki is seeing that love, and feeling that love, all the time now.   Becki was the one who told me when she was fighting cancer, “When you face the thing you fear the most, you realize you have nothing to fear, for God is with you through it all.”

When my son died, I remembered her words, and I thought of how true they were.  God was with me through it all.

As we go through this time in our world history, I want us to remember those words.  They are true words—and we can cling to them.

Perhaps, you know someone who has this virus.  Perhaps you are grieving someone who has died of this virus.  Perhaps you have this virus. 

You do not have to fear — God is with us through it all.  God is love.  He cares for you.  Death cannot separate us from His love.  Nothing can separate us from His love.

So Be Encouraged!!

All My Fears Were For Naught

Fear – It can do funny things to you.  When I was 46 years old, I gave birth to my fifth child.  When I was pregnant with her, I was afraid.  I knew the statistics, and they weren’t good.

Chances were this child would have something genetically wrong.  There was a possibility that I would die – but since that possibility exists with each child born, I wasn’t as concerned with that statistic.  I tried to ignore these fears and continue with life.  

We were in the middle of remodeling our home, and since my husband is a builder, our home was also going to be on the Parade of Homes.

I was homeschooling all the rest of our four children, in the middle of a remodel, while being pregnant, with morning sickness.  

And I was afraid.  My fear would pop out at the most inappropriate times for me.  I would be at a gathering of friends and would start crying.  I was mortified.  I hated crying in front of others.  Now – I have cried so often in front of others—it doesn’t bother me at all.

What is the point of this story? 

I had my baby.  She was healthy, and perfect, and all my fears were for naught.

All my fears were for naught.

Right now, we are all in lock-down.  We are seeking to be safe from the COVID-19 virus.

There is a great deal of uncertainty.  There is fear of the unknown.  There is anxiety.

 I am concerned for how the shutdowns are affecting people living on the edge economically.  What is this doing to them?   Will businesses be able to survive?  What will our country’s future look like?

Again – there is fear.  There is uncertainty.  There is anxiety.

During the Great Depression in our country, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear, except fear itself.”

Fear makes people do crazy things.  We have all seen people do crazy things during this time. 

The opposite of fear is faith.  One can still fear and have faith at the same time.  Faith is not the absence of fear.  Faith is just choosing to believe God and do what He says.

God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God tells us to love Him, first and foremost.   Many of us have put our security in money.  Money has been our God.   During this time, we can repent of that, and ask God to be the One we worship first and foremost.

Perhaps, that is the true point of this time, to return to the One who made us and gave us life.

He has said, “Cast all your anxieties upon Me, for I care for you.”

I believe that when this time is over, it will be clear that, “All our fears were for naught.” I believe this—- because in the words of Becky Crain, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36, “When you face the thing you fear the most, you realize you have nothing to fear, because God is with you through it all.”

God is with us through this all.

So Be Encouraged!!

Faith and Fear

This is a short, less than 5 minute video, of Jeff Struecker, the soldier who lived through the events featured in the movie, “Black Hawk Down”, talking about “Faith and Fear”. In this time of Panic–facing the unknowns– this is worth watching!!

There is no reason to Panic — Is there?

Today my husband took my daughter shopping and my daughter came back all a buzz about how the stores were sold out of toilet paper, and other basic supplies.   It seems that 2 cases of the coronavirus, in our state, is cause of major panic, colleges and schools closing, and stores being wiped of supplies right off the shelves.

Friends and family are posting articles on facebook on how to prevent getting this virus.  People are panicking because they don’t know much about this virus.

This is what I find curious about us as human beings.  We live on a ball that is hurtling through space, we live with people dying all the time, with the threats of tornadoes, or hurricanes, or earthquakes.   The flu season just killed thousands and thousands more than this Corona virus is expected to kill.

All of us literally face death, every single day.  But most of us, are oblivious to this.  We go about our lives, going to school, or work, or whatever, acting like we are going to live forever.

We don’t think, “I am going to die.  It could be today.”

But below the surface—it is there—the knowledge is there.

So– it should not be surprising to see people react and panic when something – like the uncertainty of the Corona-Virus brings that knowledge to the surface – that we are all going to die,—and that day could be coming sooner rather than later.

I hope that as people are faced with this truth, that they will consider these truths as well:

God loves us.  Jesus came to earth to die for us, so we could live with Him forever.  He did this because God wants us to know Him, and our sin was stopping that from happening. When Jesus died, He died for humanity’s sins, one perfect divine death to pay the penalty for all our sins and give us the gift of a relationship with God.   This gift needs to be accepted by each person individually, for that person to experience God’s love and forgiveness and experience a relationship with Him.

“For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called, children of God….” John 1: 12

“The testimony is this, God has given us eternal life, this life is in His Son, he who has the Son, has eternal life…..” 1 John 5: 11,12

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. ” John 17:3

If you would like to receive Jesus, you can do so by expressing your faith through prayer. 

“Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins.  I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord.   Please make me into the person You created me to be.  Thank you for this gift of a relationship with You.  Help me to listen to You and Your word and to follow You.”  Amen

Once you have made this decision, Jesus will come into your life as He promises:  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…..” Revelations 3:20

He will never leave you.  “…I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

You will have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Knowing that we are God’s and He is ours, will make a difference in our lives.   No reason for panic.  No reason for distress.  But also, no reason to go back to being oblivious.  We can be aware of what others are going through.  We can reach out and help in our spheres of influence. 

We can be unafraid!! 

So Be Encouraged!!

Click here for resources on Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 4 months ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 27 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!

Peace, Baby, Peace

Have you ever taken a ride on an airplane and looked down and everything seems so small? — Small houses, cars, buildings, trees.  I love looking down and seeing the world get small.  I feel such a peace when I am looking at life from that angle.  Why?  Because it reminds me that it is all a matter of perspective.

  Often, when I focus on a problem—the problem can seem so big, so huge, so unsolvable.  For example, in marriage, my husband and I often have differing opinions from one another.  That is to be expected, we are two different people, we had different backgrounds, he is from the East Coast, I am from the Mid-West, (I don’t have to explain any further than that—the cultural differences alone, explain most of our differences.)   There have been a few times in our marriage, where our differences were so extreme, that I wondered if they could be overcome. 

It’s all a matter of perspective.   It’s all in how I look at the situation.  Often, reading the Bible will help me find perspective.  I find God’s point of view—His eternal view, and that makes everything else seem small in comparison to His view, and I have that same sense of peace.

When I was in college, I began my relationship with the Lord.  One of the verses that I read over and over again was, Philippians 4:6,7:   Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

I heard a great talk by Josh McDowell, on this verse. The talk was about taking every concern to the Lord in prayer and the result will be—peace.  Not that I will necessarily have what I ask, but that when I put things in God’s hands, with an attitude of thankfulness and respect, God gives His peace.

Peace is a gift.  It is not being anxious but being calm.  It is realizing that “it”, (whatever “it” is) is all in God’s Hands, and He is motivated by love.  He can be trusted with the “it”.

Every time, I have lost someone I loved, I have been forced to look at God and look at that belief that He does love me.  He is in charge.  He can be trusted.   How do I deal with finding my way back to God when my heart is torn, battered and my soul is reeling?

I look at what I know—I know that Jesus did live, and He did die, and He did rise again.  (I am not going to go into all the apologetics of how I know this, but I will give you a link, so you can start doing research yourself into these topics.) Click here for apologetic videos.

I know that scripture is reliable and can be trusted Click here for a video about this.

I know prophesy in scripture has been fulfilled, showing me that God knows what is going to happen, and He is Sovereign, He has a plan, His will—will be done. Click here for video on fulfilled prophesies.

The Holy Spirit continues to speak in my heart, reassuring me that I am God’s child, that I am loved, that I belong.  (Romans 8:16)

There was a song that I learned when I was in college, (I was on summer break, working up north with the children of migrant workers, and attending a little tiny church—where this song was sung), the words to the song are:  “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.”     I loved that song.  I would sing it, over and over again. Click here to listen to song.

That was a time in my life, when I was coming to the end of college, and my future was full of question marks.  This song, helped to remind me of God, the One Who holds my hand, and the One Who holds the future.  The song helped me to focus on God and He helped me to gain perspective and peace.

God holds your hand and He holds your future too.   God loves you with an everlasting love.  When we doubt that, our peace is destroyed, as it is difficult to trust and follow God if we doubt His love for us.  So, remember—all He has done to demonstrate His love to you, all the Evidence He has provided so you can know what you believe is true and Be at Peace and

 Be Encouraged!!