Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remembering to Trust

I should have blogged yesterday.

Let's start there. I'm going to pretend that today didn't happen for the time being.

God is SO good!!

I've kind of alluded to a lot of the "stuff" that's been going on in my life. Things like feeling a little trapped living back at my parents house, and condo hunting, and car problems. All of these were the things that hit on Saturday, cause a lot of tears to fall, sent me on a hike, and ultimately brought me to my knees calling (and crying) out to Him.

After spending over $1000 on my car (that I just paid off two weeks ago) for repairs, I got it back this last weekend with something else wrong - un-driveable condition wrong. The condo I had found was looking like it was never going to happen, and I was envisioning living at my parents forever. (I realize that was a little irrational, but a lot of what I think is irrational.)

Fast forward two days. On Monday, life started coming together in an amazing way. I took the car back in, and in very mechanical terms they explained that they had messed something up, and they rebuilt my brakes entirely, at their cost. The condo negotiations started to come together... and here's the big news... we actually have a deal! (Much more on that to come, but for now let's keep it at the stuff that's even bigger on my mind right now.) Monday night was my first "Life Group" meeting (aka Small Group), which just gave me some much needed fellowship. It made me hopeful for relationship possibilities here in Madison.

On Tuesday, the way God was (and still is!) working was SO clear! All day long, it was like He was saying directly to me, "Kate, do you see how much I love you?," "Do you trust me now?," "Do you see how big I am? None of this is too big for me to handle if you'll just let me." It was so obvious the way He had His hand on me, loved me, and was working His good plan for my life.

It's much easier to see Him working when He works things out the way we want Him to. It's much tougher when things don't go the way we planned.

It's days like today that we need to remember days like my Monday.

Without giving you too many of the teary, confusing details... With the way the economy has been spinning out of control, the condo loan I had planned on and built my budget around is no longer available, and the options are more limited, and more expensive. Long story (which I can't go into without more tears that I'm not ready to shed) short, I'm going forward, prayerfully, with the condo. Everything else says do this. And I'm learning to trust Him. I'm a "numbers girl" at heart (who else loves spending her days looking at spreadsheets and databases?), and have spent the night playing with my budget, and figuring out how to make it work. No huge worries, I'll be ok, just with a few changes in the way I live.

In a way, it's exciting to see how God will work and make Himself known through all of this. Today I'm convinced that He has a good plan for me, and I can't wait to see what's coming my way next. Tonight, I'll fall on my knees, praising Him for all the ways He is so good, and trusting Him with everything that comes next.

One other note and request for all of you out there in my blog-world of friends.... remind me of this post next time I'm freaking out, trying to do it alone, doubting Him.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Throwing out the map

I had one of those mornings where I just needed God to show up so badly. Ok, it's really been one of those weeks, but it brought me to my knees this morning. I was definitely tired of fighting. I found myself back in bed after being up for a couple hours this morning, just sobbing into my pillow, praying to just fall asleep so it would all go away. (Or just be shoved aside, never to really be dealt with.) I was praying for God to show up. Praying for Him to fix things. To fix the brakes on my car. To fix the whole loving situation/place to be at "home" thing by making the real estate agent call back finally. To just let me go to sleep.

He wasn't having any of it. At least He wasn't having my plans, because He had his own (surprise, surprise!).

Now let's just get something straight. I am by no means what you'd call a nature girl. I really don't like the woods or being too far from civilization. I want to be able to get a Diet Coke whenever I want one. I want to be able to turn on the radio and sing or scream or cry with it. Stick with me, this is going somewhere.

As I was laying in my bed, not falling asleep, the car still a mess, phone not ringing with the call I've been waiting for, He told me to get up, and drive to a state park just outside of Madison. Huh? Sure, I know where Governor Nelson State Park is, but I haven't been there in years. It's a park, with woods, and animals, and hiking trails. It's not really my kind of place. But somehow I knew I needed to be there. I was trusting I needed to go, but I wasn't sure was going to happen when I got there, so I still had a backup plan. I at least brought my "fun" book and a blanket, and my plan was to park myself at the beach and get lost in a novel. So, I drove the 15 miles or so to get there. Paid my $7 to get in. Grabbed a map. And found a parking spot. Now what. The map had 4 hiking paths marked out, and I had parked at the beginning of one of them. I thought... why not. Let's hike.

To get an idea for how unprepared I was for this walk, check out the shoes I wore on this little trip.

I ended up on a 2 mile trail, walking through the woods. I had a map in my back pocket with all these fun little facts about trees along the trail, how the lakes in Madison were formed. Now also remember that this isn't really my element. Everytime I saw one of the little number markers on the path that indicated the map had some extra info, I found myself pulling out the map, reading about it, and also just making sure I was going the right way. I really didn't care about the trees. Or the lakes. Or any of the history. I was really only looking at the map to make sure I wasn't going to get lost out in this woods. I know this is completely irrational. This was a WELL groomed path, that is nearly impossible to wander off of unintentionally.

The whole idea of making sure I'm on the right track is just so typical for me. I need to make sure everything is going the way I plan it. Life should be mapped out, I have it mapped out in my head, and life gets thrown in a tailspin when something goes wrong. Exactly like it did this morning. It's the little things - like the car being repaired, but coming back with something else wrong, or not getting a phone call when I expect it - that can just take me down for the count.

I was about 3/4 of a mile into the hike (I know because I had it all measured out on the map of course!), when I finally realized how little attention I was paying to everything around me - the bird hanging upside down on a tree limb, the spider web stretching almost three feet between two branches, the tiny bright purple flowers soaking up the sun. At that point, I made a conscious decision to keep the map in my back pocket for the rest of the hike, and just trust that the path would take me in the right direction, and eventually lead me out of the woods.

It's incredible how much nicer the walk was after that. For the whole first mile, I didn't see any other people walking. After that, I ran into an older woman who smiled at me and commented about how nice it was that we had a warm day in September. I met a man walking his brand new puppy who I knelt down and played with for awhile. A kid out for a run (who did two circuits of the path while I was walking that last mile!) who just smiled as he passed. I noticed the sun breaking through the trees more. And even better, I noticed God showing up for me just when I most needed Him.

No, my car isn't magically fixed. The phone call didn't come. I'm still dealing with some of the crap that runs through my head. But I know He's there. And I'll be ok without that map I so often depend on. He has a map that's so much better than mine. And even better than having a map in my back pocket, is having Him on the walk with me every step of the way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You ladies from Tennessee are wonderful.

Ramona from Knoxville made my day yesterday.

No, not a blog follower. Or even a blogger. At least not that I know of.

Ramona works at the call center for US Cellular.

Last night I was driving the beltline home at about 9:00, pretty wiped out, a little frazzled, and trying to figure out all the financial and car and condo stuff. And I realized randomly how much I had been texting this past month. And that I don't have a texting plan on my cell phone. And they just raised rates to 25 cents a text. And I'm trying hard to get on a better budget to make the car and condo stuff happen. And my cell phone is coming to the end of a billing cycle.

Being that it was already 9:00, I wasn't going to make it to a US Cellular store last night, but I thought I might, just might, be able to change my plan over the phone.

I "#729"ed it (#PAY), and after getting through the maze of "Push 1" commands, got a voice, or rather, a cough.

When I'm in a crummy mood, I tend to take it out on the people I love the most, and am much more pleasant to complete strangers. (Not one of my best traits... I'm working on that.) She apologized, and I told her that it was fine and to take her time. She went on to explain how her voice was almost gone as it was almost the end of her shift. And how the sudafed she had taken earlier was wearing off. Then we got down to business. A little. At least we got as far as me telling her I wanted to add a text package to my plan.

She proceeded to ask me "Did you meet some nice honey that you've been texting too much darlin'?"

I told her no, but that I wish I had! She was working on getting my plan all updated, but while she was doing that, I learned...

  • how she lost her mom earlier this year to Alzheimer's
  • that her dad has, in not so many words, asked for her permission to start going out with women again
  • how he's (her dad) been going dancing down at the American Legion
  • that she's trying out the online dating thing
  • that her daughter is in the Air Force and is in Las Vegas right now
  • that her daughter has recently gone through a divorce
  • that she used to work construction (with someone named Bubba!)
  • that she's 5'9" (and said she was tall - I told her I had her beat at 5'11")
  • we both wondered why tall men always go for the teensy-weensy women
  • how she was wearing 3" high wedge sandals that she got for under $4 at the end of last season

She was telling me all about this with her sweet accent. In the middle of it I had to ask her where she was a from, when she laughed and told me "Eastern Tennessee. Knoxville." A conversation with a friendly voice, who could make me laugh, and instantly feel like a friend was just what I needed last night.

US Cellular will definitely be getting a letter from me commending their customer service reps.

And Ramona will be getting a call again as soon as I find that "honey" I have to text message!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Torn, lost, but still hopeful

I'm completely torn tonight.

On one hand, it was a great night. I have found a church I like for it's worship and teaching, but wasn't real sure how to get connected to anyone at a place that serves thousands of people a week. I was blessed to be part of several small groups during my time in Sheboygan, and was really hoping to find something like that back in Madison. And tonight was the first step. I went to the small group (Life Groups at Blackhawk) kickoff tonight, and at least have a group that I'm part of now. It's strange to think that three years ago, the idea of being in a "small group" of people from church was terrifying. Now it's something I've been needing! I'm also so excited about the fact that it's a group of people who are all pretty much in my demographic. One of the benefits of being at a bigger church, is that there are enough single 20/30 year olds to form a bunch of groups! I've never before been in a group like this, and I'm kind of looking forward to how the dynamics work when people are closer to the same life situation.

I have to admit though, it isn't a whole lot of fun to think about having to learn to be vulnerable
in front of a whole new group of people....

Especially when I'm feeling like this....

So lost. So unloved, and even unloveable. The whole love thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I know I've been at this point before, and I know I'll pull myself (well, ok, I won't do it myself, it never works that way) out of it eventually, but when you're sitting in this place, it flat out sucks. I don't have any better words for it right now. I'm so tempted to draw into myself, to pull away from people. The one thing I know that is different this time around, is that I've started to run to Him. Ok, time for truth, I'm not running to Him, but at least there are a few steps in His direction. And that is better than before.

For now...

"Lord I'm tired, So tired from walking; And Lord I'm so alone, And Lord the dark, is creeping in; Creeping up, to swallow me; I think I'll stop, Rest here awhile. And this is all that I can say right now, And this is all that I can give; And this is all that I can say right now, And this is all that I can give, that's my everything.

And didn't You see me cryin'?, And didn't You hear me call Your name?; Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?, I wish You'd remember, where You sat it down. And this is all that I can say right now, I know it's not much; But this is all that I can give, yeah that's my everything; This is all that I can say right now, I know it's not much; But this is all that I can give, Yeah that's my everything.

I didn't notice You were standing here; I didn't know that, that was You holding me; I didn't notice You were cryin' too; I didn't know that, that was You washing my feet; And this is all that I can say right now, oh, I know it's not much; But this is all that I can give, yeah that's my everything."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Little Sports News

I realize it's old news, but it still makes me happy....

Charter now has Big Ten Network!


The Badgers won last night!


The Packers won today!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I've been living back with my parents for 9 weeks now.

I'm living in the guest room.

I'm living out of a suitcase.

All of my "stuff" is in a storage unit a mile and a half from the house.

There have been at least two other people living here the whole time I've been here.

I'm back at the house that was my home for about 13 years, but it doesn't feel like home anymore.

I'm longing for a place to get away and have some space and time to myself.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Take my word for it...

I found this interesting article on today about the 10 Coolest Small Towns. I see number 1, ok, some place in New York. I'm sure it's cool. See number 2 and realize I've been there, Manitou Springs, CO. I agree, it is cool. It sits right at the bottom of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. I've checked out the shops there, had lunch at one of the little cafes. So far so good with this list. I'm with 'em. Number 3, a little town in Ohio, Yellow Springs, sounds pretty enough. And then.... I look at number 4.

Mazomanie, Wisconsin.

You have got to be kidding.

Been there too. As they say, its 24 miles from Madison. Apparently Erik Torkells (who wrote this section of the article) is enamoured by the artist co-op and the dance studio with a circus camp. A store that sells Wisconsin-made souvenirs (a souvenir from Mazo - exciting!), and even the clothing-optional beach.

I went to this little town every Friday, of every week, of every summer vacation in elementary school, for the weekly trip to the "Mazo Pool" with daycare. I remember the bus ride (that seemed to take forever with three kids to a vinyl bus seat on hot summer days), and lunch at the park shelter, ineveitably swarming with bees, hoping that your lunch didn't get lost on the way, and getting about a half hour in the crazy crowded pool, before making the long bus trip back, only this time in your wet clothes after swimming. Oh, the memories. (*One note: I always feel guilty saying bad things about the daycare I went to as a child, mostly because it was a wonderful place for me to be as a kid. I was lucky enough to go to a Christian daycare, even before that was a significant part of my, or anyone in my family's, life. I had wonderful teachers who loved me, and gave me a safe place to be, where my parents felt comfortable leaving me. They allowed my mom the opportunity to be a better mom by giving her the chance to work and do the things she loved, while still keeping me well taken care of. Thanks CFK!)

Let me tell you from first hand experience. The place isn't that exciting. Save yourself the time, and find a different small town in Wisconsin to experience. I can guarantee you there are better ones.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Only one thing to say tonight...

And Aaron Rodgers, you have some pretty eyes!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"That girl"...

It's been one of those days. I realize I just posted 8 hours ago about what a good day it was, and clearly, parts of it were wonderful. But those doubts and other nasty things have made their way into my head, and are consuming me now. And I find myself having trouble falling asleep, so here I am.

It all started at church this morning. I'm definitely digging the church I've been checking out since I got back to Madison. Worship is great, messages are good... but... it's BIG. We're talking 1,000 people at a service, and they do four of them a Sunday! I'm coming from my cozy little church plant in Sheboygan, where you at least recognized most people, and knew a lot of them by name. It was comfortable. It was home. And there's this great song that I've associated with Crossroads in Sheboygan since that Vision Sunday service this May. And then today, they introduced and sang it at Blackhawk here in Madison. Now I've been missing a lot of my Sheboygan friends lately, and being in this new church with this old song was too much. As soon as they started to play "God of this City," the tears started falling. To borrow a line from K, I was "That girl!"

K told me the story about the Sunday she was in this new church (same one I'm talking about!), and didn't know anyone, so she was sitting by strangers, and started crying during the message. I know you've been there. It just hits you and there's no stopping the crying. She told me how she's sure the people who were near her went home that day and were praying for her throughout the week, thanking God that she was there that day, and that He was working on her heart. She told me how she wanted to tell them to not misunderstand, that she knew Jesus and they didn't have to worry about her, but it was just one of those days! That was me today. Missing Sheboygan as the worship team at Blackhawk sang "God of this City." In my mind, that song belongs to Zach.

"You're the God of this city, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation, You are. For there is no one like our God. There is no one like our God. Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city. Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here. You're the strength in our weakness, You're the love to the broken, You're the joy in the sadness, You are. For there is no one like our God. There is no one like our God."

I'm just feeling like I'm at that low point, where there isn't really an explanation for it. Trying to find my place in this kind of new life, in a new town, with new people. I knew it would be different when I came back after being gone for three years, I guess I just wasn't completely prepared for how to deal with it and what to do about it. I know He has great things in store, I'm just growing impatient waiting for them to happen. If it's ok to covet your prayers, I could use them. Just for some peace about where I'm at. Assurance that He has a plan that's better than anything I could dream up. And for my heart (and head too!) to get more refocused on Him.

Perks of Madison

One of the perks of being back in Madison is I get to see that brother I mentioned in the last post more. Another perk, all the fun stuff Madison has to offer. I'm combining both of them today. Hanging out with Matt at the Memorial Union Terrace by the lake on a BEAUTIFUL day. Wish you were here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

On Being a Sister

My favorite moment of the Republican National Convention....

Even though I'm a self-proclaimed political junkie, a discussion of the politics will have to wait. For now, just enjoy this fun moment of a little girl being a big sister. On a day when I've gotten to be a big sister to my little brother, I wish making him feel better was as easy as fixing his hair.

I love you brother, and it's all going to be ok. Remember you can call me anytime - day or night.