Yesterday, as I was driving back to DC from my weekend in WV, God showed me something amazing. I was listening to some music on the radio and singing, when I felt like I should turn off the radio and just be still for awhile. As I was driving along thinking about my next blog, God gave me this awesome vision. I hope I am able to explain it properly..I'll try my best. So here goes...
He showed me a vision of houses. Some of them were small, some of them were mansions. Some were neat and tidy on the outside and some were messy. As these houses are going through my mind, God tells me that these houses represent the lives that we build for ourselves...apart from God....on our own.
We pick out the land, draw up our own blueprints, lay our own foundation, hammer up our own walls, and decorate. Some of the houses are big, and some of the houses are small, but the point is...they were designed by us...built by human hands. With some of these houses, if you were to just drive by or take a quick look, you would think that that everything was fine with the house. The outside looks fine. The yard is mowed. The windows are washed. The siding is new. But if you were to take a closer look you would see that the foundation is cracked, the basement floods, there is mold growing under the floors, the walls are scratched, the padding under the carpet has stains, and there is a short in the wiring. We keep repairing the problems, but they don't go away. We try and stop the leaks, but the water finds a way in anyways. We Spackle the walls, but they keep getting dented and scratched. We try and cover up all of the problems so that no one will notice. We are in a constant state of repair, but don't want to call in the expert.
We can't hide our dents, mold, and leaks from God. He sees through the Spackle, through the paint, through the pretty rose bushes we planted outside. He knows. He knows our hearts. He watches as we try day after to day to make our houses into homes, but for some reason they still feel empty. A home is a place where your soul rests. A home is a place were you find peace. If home is where the heart is...then what is in your heart? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mat. 6:21)
Then God showed me what He wants to do with the houses we've built for ourselves.
He wants to take a wrecking ball to them, dig up the foundations, and bulldoze the land. He is done with the Spackle. He wants us to be able to come to Him with our cracked and broken places and He wants to be our Repairman. He is done with the paint. He wants us to stop trying to cover over all of our sins. He wants us to come to Him with them and let Him forgive us and heal us. No amount of money can buy the peace that comes with the Spirit of God. No amount of money or "do-gooding" can buy Jesus' love. God wants to give us a solid foundation that can withstand anything. Without a solid foundation the water will keep searching until it finds a way in and then it will begin to destroy your whole house. Without a good support system holding your walls, they will crumble and fall.
Think about sky scrapers for a minute. When the first sky scrapers were built they didn't take earth quakes and hurricanes into consideration. They were built too rigidly. When the earth started to shake under them...they crumbled. When the winds would beat on them they would turn to rubble. All the hard work that went into building them...gone in a matter of seconds. In more recent years they discovered that in order to make a sky scraper more able to withstand the unpredictability of nature they had to make sure they had a solid foundation and also make them more flexible. Check out this excerpt from the NASA website:
Skyscrapers need special construction to make them earthquake-resistant. They must be anchored deeply and securely into the ground. They need a reinforced framework with stronger joints than an ordinary skyscraper has. Such a framework makes the skyscraper strong enough and yet flexible enough to withstand an earthquake.
As you can see, a solid foundation and the ability to be flexible allow for a more resistant and resilient structure. When we become rigid and think that by following some laws we will be safe....we are no longer able to resist the storm. We will crumble when we come up against something that we weren't prepared for...something that doesn't follow the rules. Humans like laws and rules. We make them all the time. We like to know what is expected of us. But when we think that by following a legalistic code of rules we will be able to find God, we are most certainly going to be disappointed. God's laws are written on our hearts. When life's storms come beating down on us, we aren't going to find the answer and strength to get through it by following a bunch of "thou shalls" and "thou shall nots". I'm sorry if you thought it would. When life gets tough, you need to draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Rigidity stops us from getting down on our knees and praying to God. Rigidity makes us think that if we follow the rules then life will be easy. Rigidity makes us think that we have all the answers. Rigidity can make us like the Pharisees.
We try so hard to figure it all out on our own. We do our best to make ourselves presentable. We try so hard to make our souls feel peaceful. But why isn't it working? Why do we still feel empty when the lights are off and we are alone with our thoughts? It's because we can't fill that empty space in us with anything other than God. We can't fill that space with fancy parties. We can't fill the space with awesome jobs. We can't fill the space with people. We can't fill the space with gourmet food. We can't fill the space with sports.
We can't fill the space with anything other than God. I've tried, trust me. All my life I tried everything I could in order to stop feeling like something was missing. But you know what, now that I have God filling that space, no matter how big the earthquake or how powerful the winds....I NEVER feel empty. I may feel scared. I may feel tired. I may even feel alone sometimes....but I never feel empty anymore. I remember trying for years to make sure that I didn't ever have to stop long enough to realize that I was missing something. I numbed my pain. I depended on other people to fill that void, and when they couldn't I would blame them for my emptiness. I depended on other people to validate me and make me feel fun, pretty, and smart....but guess what....none of it was ever enough. In fact, I chose people that would only prove to me the worthlessness that I felt about myself. That emptiness in me...that space where God belongs....is so big and wide that no one and nothing on Earth could have ever been able to fill it. And even after I started to believe that Jesus just really might be the answer, it was so hard to let go. I felt like I had to get my life together first. I couldn't just show up in church on Sunday after I just got out of bed with the boyfriend I was living with. I couldn't talk to God after a night of partying. I told myself that once I finally was able to get my life together I would start praying or going to Church. But you know what...I had it all wrong. Completely wrong. Because I don't have the power in me to get my life together without God. Just look at Jesus for a minute here. He is the one that we are supposed to follow, right....aren't we supposed to look to Him to be our guide? Well, did you know that Jesus was all the gossip wherever He went...not just because of the miracles and all that, but because He hung out with the people that everyone called "the sinners". Jesus would show up in bars and brothels. He would come to the people that society had deemed as "bad" and He would hang out with them. He didn't tell them that once they got their act together and get into church then they would be deemed worthy of His presence. No. He went to them right where they were. I don't have the power to stop sinning. I couldn't stop. I was known as the girl that couldn't make a right decision to save her life....literally. But, I finally did save my life. I made the decision to come to Jesus just as I was. Do you know how many years I told myself that I could get it together? Do you know how many years that I let my poor little heart and soul get crushed over and over again...leaving no time to heal? I didn't think that I could change, and I bet there were a lot of people out there that agreed with me....but I did. I am not strong enough to resist the devil. I am not strong enough to resist temptation. But you know who is? Jesus. He already defeated the devil. He already resisted every temptation known to man. We are all sinners. Every single last one of us. And no amount of Spackle or paint can cover it. Only the blood of Jesus can. It's by the power of God only that my life has changed. The only credit I can take is for the one decision I made all on my own....the decision to accept Jesus. And even though I have free will, Jesus is the one that built my new house. He is the rock that my foundation is laid. He has built me into a sky scraper that reaches ever higher toward Heaven. He had made me flexible and strong at the same time. I am shrewd as a serpent and yet innocent as a dove (Mat 10:16). My house is now a home. Wherever I am, there God will be, because He lives in my heart. I don't pretend that everything is fine and perfect anymore. I don't cover over my flaws. I don't try and find comfort in anyone or anything other than God. I'm done trying to please people...talk about an impossible task. I'm not scared of people seeing who I really am....because who I really am...is a unique, beautiful child of God...and that is something you can't hide.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Did you guys hear that!?
That was the sound of me letting out the big breath I've been holding in for about...ummm...three months now. Holding ones breath for three months would, as one would assume, have many negative side effects. I'm not a doctor, but apparently not breathing is bad. This isn't the same kind of breath holding that I implemented as I child in order to try and get my parents to buy me a toy (which never EVER worked, by the way. Mom and Pops McNemar had no patience whatsoever for fit-having.). This was more of the "i-don't-know-how-to-do-this-huge-important-project-at-work-and-I-have-no-idea-where-to-begin-or-what-to-do-and-feel-like-I-am-going-to-fail-and-then-everyone-will-hate-me-and-i-will-be-fired-and-die" kind of breath holding. My side effects included, but were not limited to: not sleeping, not being able to focus on anything other than this project, not being able to focus on the project at all because it is too overwhelming, not sleeping, sudden onset of anxiety while doing non-anxiety producing things (such as reading or hemming pants), slight (lol) increase in retail therapy (i.e.buying things that I pretend I need and then use them/wear them all the time in order to advocate my purchase...thank you Banana Republic, Anthropology, Urban Outfitters, and Nine West for your support in this endeavor...the Glover Park neighborhood that has seen me in the same clothes day in and day out would also like to thank you...they appreciate consistency), not sleeping (do you notice a pattern here at all!?), eating ice cream for dinner for 5 days straight (true story...Ben & Jerry's creme brulee...HEY, I am in training for a half marathon, so I need calories people...stop judging!!), and finally...not sleeping. The not sleeping was a big part of the zombie-like Katie that partook in the above mentioned activities. Zombie Katie LOVES new shoes and ice cream. BUT, guess what!? Zombie Katie is to be no more for I have finished my huge project as of TODAY! PRAISE GOD!
Why am I telling all of this to you!?
For sympathy and praise, of course! JUST KIDDING, just kidding, just kidding....I swear, there is a point to all the rambling.
The point is this....Zombie Katie didn't have to exist. I completely freaked out for months about this project when God had it all in control the whole time. (STORY OF MY LIFE, PEOPLE!) God gave me this task in order to give Him all the glory...and believe me, I do. To Him I give all the glory, all the honor, and allllll the praise. And I'm not just saying that to sound "religious" or "churchy" or just because you're supposed to. I'm not like one of those rappers on the awards shows that thank God and then go and get arrested for (fill in bad thing here). Without God I wouldn't have been able to pull this off at all....believe me. I am only one person and this was a multi-person endeavor. When it was too much and I thought I couldn't go on...God would bring someone in to help me (Thank you Wajh and Paul!....I seriously can't stop thanking them...but I give credit where credit is due, ya'll). When I wanted to give up, God would give me the confidence and strength to go on. It sounds like I just built a skyscraper single-handedly while wearing and eye-patch or something, doesn't it!? : )Well, it kinda feels like it. We've all been through these types of trials. God tells us to count it as pure joy when we go through trials and suffering of many kinds (James 1:2....check it out!). Why!? Because He has found us worthy to do it. And not only does He know we can do it, but that He is so excited for us to realize how amazing and strong we really are and just how much we can accomplish when He is the center of our lives.
Anxiety over the most important project of my career thus far is basically...normal. Not sleeping for two months...not normal. Today, after all was said and done, I realized why it all went down the way it did. Now I get it...I understand. It didn't have to wait three months and look back to understand it; all I had to do was finish the project in order to see why it had to be so intense there for awhile. Today, I realized that had I not been forced to jump in feet first and figure a way to get it done, I may not have learned so much about my job so quickly. I had to learn a lot and research a lot...and do it quickly. And now, with the knowledge I have, I will be a much more effective manager and in a shorter time then if I wouldn't have had this project (this only occurs every 5 years....basically...it's an audit). God wants us to be knowledgeable. He wants us to be educated and hard-working.
This whole experience totally ties together with my blog series about restoration.
For many years of my life I couldn't and wouldn't trust. Trust is important. If you can't trust, then you can't have pure and true love. If you can't trust, then you can't have joy and peace. If you can't trust, then you have unhealthy boundaries and expectations. I was outgoing on the outside, but a scared little girl hiding under her mommy's skirt on the inside. Therefore, trusting in God was not and is not something that comes super easy to me (yet..I'm SO getting there). I WANT to trust. I LOVE trusting God. But it's just not easy. I transfer my experiences with humans letting me down over to a God that will NEVER let me down or leave me. So in order to teach me to trust...what does God do?...He puts me in situations in which I HAVE to trust Him. And you know what happens...I trust Him. And every single time....He comes through. What I have come to realize is that even when it seems like God is leaving me, not listening, not around, doesn't care, and is letting me down....He is in fact carrying me, hanging on every word and thought I have, hates my pain, saves each tear, stand by my bed as I toss and turn, holds me up and is working behind the scenes in order to bless me more than I could ever imagine. It's just the truth. I'm not trying to sound like a greeting card, even though it all sounds too good to be true. All of this work that God and I are doing....it's for a purpose. It's so that I can learn to love and trust Him, so that He can continue to grow and bless me.
When I was a little girl, my favorite song was The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera from Karate Kid II. My cousin, Heather and I watched that movie until it fell apart. One of the things I remember so clearly, even though I was only 5 or 6, was how much I loved the part in the movie with Daniel came and rescued his girl from that mean, jealous bad guy. Even as a little girl, all I wanted was a man that would fight for me. I would put the Karate Kid soundtrack into my tape player and listen to The Glory of Love over and over again...and I would cry. It wasn't just some cheesy eighties song to me. To me, the words of that song meant something. I didn't completely understand it, but I did understand that I wanted a knight and shining armor that would look at me and see that I am worth the fight.
About a year ago, I heard The Glory of Love again. It had been probably 10 years since I had heard it. I had totally forgotten about it. After hearing it on the radio I went home and got it off Itunes. One day, as I was out running, the song popped up and for the first time in a long long time I really listened to the words of the song...and man-oh-man was I overwhelmed. God spoke to me in that moment very clearly. It felt likeHe and I were having a conversation. Check out the lyrics:
Tonight it's very clear
Cause we're both lyin' here
There's so many things I want to say.
I will always love you,
I will never leave you alone.
Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying.
I don't want to lose you
I could never make it alone.
I am the man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever, knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love.
You keep me standing tall
You helped me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me
I have always needed you,
I could never make it alone
That's like a knight in shining armor
From a long time ago
Just in time I will save the day
Take you to my castle far away....
Okay, you all get the point, I'm sure. As I was listening to this song, God was saying to me that he was always there even when I didn't feel like he was. He has truly been my knight in shining armor. He has rescued me from bad guys time and time again. And all of the trials and hard times that I have gone through and will go through...is ALL for the glory of love. Why do I have hard times...for the glory of love? Love is what we are living for, people. If the number one commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and the second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself....then it seems that love is pretty important. Everything is for the glory of love. And guess what..God is love. So we do it all for the glory of God....and He is love.
God, being the knight and shining armor that He is, has restored my ability to trust. He has restored my ability to believe. He has restored my ability to love unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Are these blessings not worth a few months of doing some serious labor-of-love type work? HELL YEAH IT IS! (Pardon my French...at least I think the French say hell). Like I was talking about in my previous blog....I am like Martha and Mary. I know that God is wonderful and I love being around Him and all that....but I still have a hard time really believing that He can do the impossible. My mind can't comprehend it and my heart is too scared of being let down to believe it.....but God is in the restoration business. Through trials and hard times in my life I have seen God's glory and am now a witness to His ability to do the miraculous. You know yourself better than anyone (except God). Only you know the truth about dead dreams, dead hopes, etc that you have inside you and are too afraid to acknowledge. Maybe you are like me and even though you know that God can bring the desires of your heart to pass, you are afraid of succeeding. Success means that people now expect things from you. Now that you have done such a good job, they are going to expect perfection all the time. Everyone loves to be acknowledged and get a pat on the back here and there, but a true success that lifts you up and changes people's perspective of you....that....can be scary. Aren't we silly!? The only reason we are afraid of succeeding is because we are afraid of failing. The higher we climb, the harder we fall. We have all been let down in so many ways. We are afraid to fall in love because we have experienced what it is like to love someone only to fall far when things don't work out. We are afraid to reach for our goals..be they a new, higher paying job or to go on a mission trip to Russia...because we have applied for jobs before and didn't get them or we feel like we wouldn't make a difference even if we did go on a mission trip. There are SO many excuses that we give ourselves so that we don't have to look at our resurrected dreams and fear that they will die again. No one can understand that more than me. But you know what....God is bigger than my fears....He is bigger than my doubts...He is even bigger than my stubbornness (and that is pretty big, ya'll). Even when I limit myself, God finds a way to break through to me and the next thing I know..BAM!... my dream is alive again and it is more than it ever was...and so am I! God isn't going to let me give up because I am here for a purpose and I have given Him full access to my life. Herein lies the key point...I gave Him access....He didn't take it from me...He didn't force me...I prayed and asked Him to come into my life, to live in me, to forgive me, and to guide me. Until I was ready to do that....God was only a quiet whisper that I ignored as I went on thinking I had the answer. God still whispers to me, but now my soul is quiet enough to hear Him.
Katie the non-zombie
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Hello all! As some of you may know, I'm training for my first ever half marathon on May 9th (I ran a 5k, like, 4 years ago and I walked most of it, so this is really my first race ever!). Over the last two years I've started running a few miles here and there, but never wouldn't have considered myself "a runner"...until now, baby!!! Over the last two months, I have gone from a fair-weather, occasional jogger....to a full on running machine (I'm up to 10 miles in 1 hour and 44 minutes. Hallelujah!). How did this happen, you ask!? Great question. Thank you for asking. Well, it happened when I decided to stop believing false ideas I had about myself, stop making excuses to avoid change and difficulties, stop fearing failure, stop thinking I am someone that doesn't complete things, stop telling myself I can't, stop listening to people that reinforce all of these false ideas about myself, and more than all that...START letting God come into the places of my life where all of these thoughts and feelings lived and let Him do some serious house cleaning. It's hard to do that though, isn't it? Not only is change hard...even when you know it's for the better, but what is even harder is to believe that God won't let you down; that He won't leave you; that He will be your biggest cheerleader, fan, and supporter; and that He really and truly can and will show up in the situation you thought was impossible and show His glory, power, and LOVE!
When I'm running long distances....okay, even short distances....I always find myself checking how many miles I've gone so far, how much longer I have, how fast I am going, etc. I need to constantly know where I am and how much longer until I'm done. I know my goal....and I want to reach it in the fastest way possible. But when I do this, it seriously seems like time slows down to an almost halt. You know the old saying, "a watched pot never boils"......well, a watched run never ends. I feel like I am about to pass out and die....I assume that I am almost done with my nine mile run....I look at the gauges and find that I have only run 3 miles. Oh the humanity!
Another thing I do is think way too much about my running form. Am I landing my feet correctly? Is my stride too short? Is my stride too long? Am I slouching? Am I bouncing up and down too much? And every time I do this....my stride gets all out of whack and I end up overthinking it so much that I run in such a way that I start to feel pain. I KNOW I'm not supposed to do these things. I know that I am supposed to just enjoy the run, listen to the music, zone out, pray, talk to God, sing out loud and freak out all the people in the gym....but it's SO HARD!!! I've tried to listen to my music, stare into the distance...go all zen and enter a blissful state of nothingness, talk to God, etc. I even tried bringing a towel so that I could cover all the gauges that tell me my progress....but, inevitably, I move the towel and peak, or check the clock on the wall for my time.
Every time, right before I am about to move the towel and check my status...I feel something in me telling me not to. BUT I do it anyway...because even though I have changed a lot over the years....my stubbornness has been the last thing to go. (I like to think of it more as "tenacity" and "drive" than stubbornness, but whatever!) And then I find out how far I am from the end and my spirits get low and I start thinking that I can't do it. I'm already tired. I'm already hurting. I'm already thirsty. And I'm not anywhere close to the end. How can I keep going? It's too hard.
I do this very same thing with my life in general.
I am always wanting to gauge my status.
Has God answered that prayer yet? I start looking up all the Bible verses I can find about how God answers prayers swiftly and doesn't make His people wait. I start reminding God how He promised to give us what we ask for as long as it is in His will. Then I start pleading my case as to how my request is obviously in God's will, so if He could just go ahead and get on that....that'd be great.
I know the desires in my heart. And I also know that God will bless me with them beyond anything I can possibly imagine. But I start to lose heart as time passes and Jesus tarries. What's He waiting on!? But what God is showing me right now is that the things I used to think were impossible are now happening...so the prayers in the past that I felt like weren't being answered, are now answered. Given that fact, why wouldn't Jesus come through for me now!?
Today in church, Pastor Michael preached on John 11 and how Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead. He preached on the fact that even though Mary and Martha both knew Jesus...and considered Him a close friend, they still didn't really get that He was God. They thought that Jesus had shown up too late to save their brother and even after Jesus told them that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, they still didn't quite understand that He was God and could do it. They thought that He had taken too long from when they initially called upon Him. They doubted.
This is the same with our hopes and dreams. We call out to God and when He doesn't produce the instant we ask Him....we begin to lose hope. We tell ourselves that God must not be real or if he is he doesn't care about what we want or need. We weep at our lost dreams. We bury them, place a big rock in front of them. and we mourn their loss. We give up hope because we think there is no way that God can raise our dead dreams, hopes, souls, spirits. I think of all of the things in me that I counted as dead and gone...such as my love of writing. But now, God has raised that dream back up and now I can glorify Him with it. Jesus could have easy healed Lazarus, but then there wouldn't have been as much glory in it. What is better than a dream come true...a dead dream brought back to life, that not only comes true, but was bigger and better than what you could have ever imagined. Jesus showed God's glory by waiting 4 days to raise Lazarus. God showed His power by raising Jesus from the dead after three days in the grave. Remember everyone, we aren't here on Earth in order to get our own glory, we are here for God's glory. If waiting and letting God do what He does best, means that His glory is greater, then I say it is well worth the wait. It may seem strange that Lazarus, a close personal friend of Jesus, had to die while the other people got to be healed. And even though Lazarus was eventually raised from the dead, what a harrowing experience that must have been. Martha and Mary thought they had it bad, but at least they didn't die and get put in a tomb for 4 days. It may seem like, even though you are a close personal friend of God, that you are getting the raw end of the deal while everyone else is out there getting their miracles. But I bet that Lazarus counted himself blessed that God found favor in him enough to use him for His glory. Lazarus had to die, so that God could have the glory. But he didn't stay dead.....he lived and he gave testimony of God's power and greatness.
God raised me from the dead. I was dead in false ideas about myself. I was dead in bad relationships. I was dead in living an empty life trying to party my way into feeling fulfilled. I was dead in so many ways. People had given up on me, and I had given up on myself. But Jesus came into my life and said, "Katie, come out!" No more wrapping myself in the false grave clothes. I don't miss who I used to be. I don't even know her anymore. I don't live my life like everyone else, and I don't care...because God has restored me.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
“And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25
Did you know that the Bible is alive?
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
The word of God is active and alive. That means that the God can speak to us here in 2010 through the words of the Bible that were written thousands of years ago.
Just between you and me.....sometimes I go through long bouts without reading my Bible. It's true. Please take a moment to process the fact that I'm not perfect. I know....it's shocking....and if you think that's bad....I won't tell you the long laundry list of other un-perfect things I do, say, think, want....lol. Please, try to collect yourself and read on. What I have found is that....no surprise here....when I don't read the Bible and get some much needed spiritual food, my life isn't very awesome. And I LOVE it when my life is awesome. Sometimes I don't read the Bible because I don't want to hear what God has to say to me. I conveniently "forget" to read....for weeks. It's kinda like avoiding your parents when you know that you have done something wrong or if you know they want you to do a chore that you don't want to do. You know they're right, you know that they discipline you or give you tasks because they love you, but...you just don't want to hear it or do it. Well, I get like that with God sometimes. But don't you worry, God doesn't let me off the hook. I can pout around and ignore Him for only a short time and then I find myself running to my Bible because I don't care if it's hard to hear or not...I need to hear from my Father. God and I have had many a Father/Daughter heart-to-heart over the years....countless ones, in fact. I remember how awed and excited I was when I realized that God truly does use the Bible to speak to me....Katie McNemar...personally...about my own Katie issues and my own Katie joys...just us. It was overwhelming to me. I called my brother Kirk, and was so excited. Deep down I knew that I was telling him something that he already knew, but I just couldn't help talking a mile-a-minute and telling him about God is clearly speaking directly to me about my current situation through the Bible. WHOA! (Anyone that has gone to a good church has experienced...probably many times...a church service where you feel like, or know, that God is speaking directly to you about your current situation. God is amazing!)
One night, about 6 months ago, I was reading my Bible before I went to bed. Sometimes I have a specific book of the Bible I am reading, but most of the time I pray and ask God to speak to me through His word and then just open the Bible to wherever it opens and start reading. Most of the time...what I read totally relates to my life....and then sometimes...I open the Bible to Numbers and I'm like, Huh!? : ) On this particular night I opened to Joel 2 and started reading about all this locust stuff. Number one....locusts are gross and I will run like I am being murdered if one gets anywhere near me. Number two....there is no number two...I just like numbering things sometimes. Anyway, I opened the Bible to Joel 2:25 and started reading. That first night, I didn't really get it. What do locusts have to do with me? As far as I know, nothing of mine has been destroyed by locusts. I mean, I melt into butter when I see their disgusting exoskeleton bodies....but I wouldn't go as far as to say that they destroyed me. Leave it to literal Katie to miss the message. So...the next night...I do the same thing. I pray that God speak to me through His word and I close my eyes and let the Bible fall open. And guess what....YEP! Joel 2:25 again. So I read it again. This time I am paying more attention. Maybe God is trying to tell me something here and I am just not getting it. And then it comes to me....the locusts....I get it now. The locusts represent anything destructive in our lives. It could be alcoholism, abuse, addiction, loss, death....anything that has robbed us and taken days, months, and years from our lives. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy.....our hopes, our dreams, our lives, our friends, our families, our relationship with God.....us....all of us (John 10:10). Once I understood what God was trying to say to me, I realized how it applied to my current situation. God was trying to tell me....Katie, all of the things that have happened in your life and your families lives that have stolen years from you....I will restore them all. How awesome! What a relief! The next night, I am excited to hear what else God has in store for me, so I pray, let the Bible fall open, look down and see....Joel 2:25....again! I didn't understand. Actually, I thought of closing the Bible and trying again, but I didn't. I looked at the pages to see if maybe they were opening to that page over and over again because of a dog-eared page or something....but I couldn't find anything. So I read Joel 2:25 again. This time as I was reading it I felt like God was trying to have a heart-to-heart with me. I've had a similar experience with my dad. He'll tell me something important, and I'll tell him I understand, but he wants to make sure I am really listening, because it's really important. The vision I got in my head while I was praying about the verse...again...for the third night in a row....was God asking me to climb up into His lap, like I am a little girl. As I am sitting on His lap He says to me, "Katie, I just want to make sure that you understand what I am telling you. I don't want you to hear this word, get excited about it for a second, and then forget about it. I want you to tattoo these words unto your heart. I want you to know them and believe in them so deeply that you have no doubt that I will fulfill my promise to you." Then I start crying..in real life. Those moments where God shows up and pours His love out on me are so precious that I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. When I started my relationship with God, I not only got a friend, I got a Father. God wants to teach me, discipline me, heal me, and protect me. He knew all about my past hurts, and as any good Father would do....He healed me, and now wants to protect me from getting hurt again. My life had seemed like one fantastically crappy situation after another, and I was struggling to keep my head up. I didn't believe. I didn't get it. I didn't have this tattooed on my heart. I never really understood or believed that God would give me back all of the years that were stolen from me. How was He going to do that? There are some things that He can't replace. At least not in this lifetime. But, God's promise isn't just for a day or so....it's for eternity. But God has come through for me. He is giving me back all that was stolen from me. I am new! My life is new! Nothing is impossible! I try not to worry about what will happen in the future. God has it all under control. Nothing can steal my joy if I don't let it. Our God is not a God of disorder, but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). God will re-order your life and restore you...in His perfect timing. Being a Christian doesn't stop you from experiencing unimaginable loss and pain....but it does give you something that the world can't....hope, grace, faith, and comfort. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18). When you are going through times of trial and hardship...these are the times that you feel God the most. If you are going through a hard time now, or if there are chunks of your life missing because of destruction....know that God WILL restore them to you. Jesus didn't die for us, so that our lives could be riddled with addiction, fear, shame, guilt, pain, and sickness. He died so that we can have life, and have it to the fullest. BELIEVE that. It's not a trick. If you've never read the Bible, or if you just read the Bible five seconds ago....why don't you take a few minutes and pray for God to speak to you and tell you about His promise to restore your life....and let the pages fall where they will. I believe that God is reaching out to you right now just like He did to me. It doesn't matter if you were the one that stole from yourself...it doesn't matter. Come to Him. Let Him make you new.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
"I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell" - Walken
Click here for Cowbell explanation
Somebody tell me why I can't get this Saturday Night Live sketch out of my head. It started last week. I had a meeting with a co-worker that I hadn't really worked with much. I went to his office so I could pick his brain about some issues I've been having (work related ones). First of all....he's awesome. He helped me out so much. If I would have known that he was the guru of all things I find confusing...I would have had this meeting eons ago. As he is in the middle of what I would consider a pretty serious moment of teaching...I glance over his shoulder and see....a real prescription...for....wait for it.....more cowbell...it was signed and everything. I, being the sophisticated professional that I am, immediately burst into laughter. Obviously, this guy is cool, or he wouldn't have a prescription for more cowbell proudly displayed at his desk....but, I'm sure my giggling as he is trying to explain a very complex system to me, was slightly off-putting. Of course, I apologize and immediately explain my sudden outburst....and we both share a nice laugh. But, ever since that day, I have somehow managed to fit the phrase, "we need more cowbell" or "sounds like you need a prescription for more cowbell" into waaaaaaaay too many conversations. Most of them inappropriate. And, as is typical for me, most of the time this little addition to my conversations doesn't actually fit with the topic at hand. I am totally guilty of catch-phrase/movie quote overuse and I don't care who knows it!!!! I will wear out a phrase like it's nobodies business. Add in the super cool "fake shotguns" handmotions and a wink...and you've got me in a nutshell (that's my signature move, by the way...copyright Katie McNemar 2008, may not be duplicated or altered, if used please state copyright information immediately after use to avoid any copyright infringement). Oh man, now I'm thinking of that scene in Austin Powers Man of Mystery, when he says, "no this is me in a nutshell" and then he pretends he's in a nutshell....lol....that is SO funny. Like, this past weekend, I couldn't stop saying "forizzle"...instead of "for real". The promise of world peace and fresh donuts couldn't have gotten me to stop.
This has been a super stressful last couple of months. I have had this crazy important project going on at work and today is the day that I turn in both million-page (I am hoping that you already know I am the queen of exaggeration as well) reports I have been working on for the last two months. And believe me, it hasn't been just me working on this bad boy. If Wajh (by the way....it's totally and completely not her job in any way to help me...but she's just that awesome...forizzle!) and Paul, a super awesomely amazing resident, hadn't helped me, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Big ups to Wajh and Paul!!!! So, every time I would be sitting at my desk, looking at all the stuff I needed to do, feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted....I would say to myself..."sounds like you need a prescription for more cowbell"...and I would manage to crack a smile. After I Fed-Ex these bad boys out today, I'm going to celebrate. Given the fact that it's been in the 90's here in DC and my building still doesn't have the air conditioning turned on (not pleasant for someone that's been sick), I'm going to celebrate somewhere with air conditioning. Or, like I did last night, I'll celebrate on the roof deck of my building and take in the AMAZING view of DC and enjoy the breeze. OR, I'll do laundry. Given the fact that I almost had to wear running shorts and a tube top to work today....I should probably do laundry.
Since I'm just totally talking about random things, I might as well share with you that I bought New Moon last week. I didn't storm the Barnes & Noble as soon as they arrived....I'm not THAT bad. I waited a few days and then I calmly sauntered into the DVD section of B&N. When I realized that they didn't have any copies of New Moon out, I tried not to panic. Just knowing that I would have a copy on that day was enough to keep me going without it for longer than I thought I could. And now...they're sold out!? Me thinks not! So, I befriended the man behind the counter and somehow coaxed him into hunting down the last copy for me. I ain't got no shame in my game, ya'll. As I am leaving the man said, "don't watch it more than twice tonight!" I roll my eyes, giggle, and say, "oh please....I'm twenty-nine years old....watch it twice in one night!? Bah! I would never...!" I turn towards the door thinking..."so it's okay to watch it twice. Just not more than that. You're still ok.You're still...ok."
After the second screening that night, feeling good about myself, I realized something that I am afraid is terribly obvious to me now. Twilight....is an American version of Bollywood...minus the dance-talking....plus science fiction. Seriously. Jacob Black....always in the rain...always without a shirt....always staring longingly in Bella's eyes. A heaping helping of almost-kissing-but-not-kissing. Edward Cullen....always in the rain....always without a shirt....always staring longingly in Bella's eyes. Even though they actually kiss, they can't kiss for long because Edward might not be able to resist his urges. Bella....always the damsel in distress. She is torn between two lovers. She loves them both, but her heart has been forever given to Edward. THIS IS SOOOO BOLLYWOOD!
Ok...I'll leave you all now. I apologize for cluttering your brains with useless information, but hey...it's FUNNY useless information. : )
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Anyway....enough about me! How are YOU!?..............Good to hear it! : )
It would be totally out of character for me to not do an Easter blog...I mean seriously. In my fevered state (yes, the pity party continues) I got to church and heard an amazing message. I wasn't going to miss a day that celebrates the whole reason for Christ's life on Earth. A day which He rose from the grave and beat death so that we may live a life of freedom; no more sacrificing animals, no more following the old law. Who the Son sets free....is free indeed. (John 8:36).
What's more important than the fact that Jesus was born, (which by the way...is a historical fact even in secular history and not just biblical history) is that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. I know, I know, I know. Some people reading this are already closing out of the blog. And I get it...I understand. And trust me, it would be easy for me not to write this. It would be easy for me to keep all of this to myself. But, Katie McNemar don't. do. easy.
I know, it all seems like a fairy tale made up to give people a crutch. Something for the uneducated to hold onto. That's totally what I used to think. Virgin births and the dead raising? What!? Why not just throw Hansel and Gretal in there for good measure. But....for some reason, even though it all sounded like a big bunch of crazy crap to me at one time.....this Jesus guy....just wouldn't leave me alone. I remember when my brother first became a follower of Jesus. I was seriously shocked. And as much as I loved my brother and could totally see that it was good for him. I still just thought that it was all fake. I thought that it would all fall apart one day and then he would realize that Jesus isn't real. But, no matter how much he went through, Kirk never stopped believing or trusting in Jesus. When he started saying things to me, kinda the same things I am about to write to you, I would just listen politely for awhile and then I would argue with him. I was so frustrated. How could an intelligent and well-educated dude such as my brother, really buy into this stuff!? It took years and years, but eventually....what finally got me what nothing that I read in a book....but something that happened in my heart. Something that I can't explain, but something that was real. It was God.
There are a lot of people out there that will concede to the fact that Jesus lived and died. They even say such things as, "Yeah, I like Jesus. He was a great man. He did really nice things." However, they don't believe that He is God incarnate come to Earth to be the last sacrifice to atone for all our sins. And trust me, I totally understand how hard it is to believe. I really do. But, if secular history proves that Jesus was born, and died...and that there was a controversy over the empty tomb....then maybe it might be worth taking a look into. If Jesus isn't God, then He isn't a nice guy that did nice things. He's a liar and a cheat....and also insane. Not exactly a God I would want to believe in. But I'm not depending on apologetics here, the truth is that if you can't believe in things that you can't see or figure out completely, then it's going to be hard to believe in Jesus and all of the miracles surrounding Him and His purpose. When I first started looking into this whole Jesus situation, I started reading apologetic books. Basically, this is the scientific route of showing that Jesus is God and that He died and lived again. And honestly, reading these books are a huge part of my becoming a Believer, but in the end...it's part that science can't prove that finally got me. As I drew closer to God, He drew closer to me. I don't think I can even explain it very well in words, but God touched my heart and soul, and revealed the truth to me. And ever since then, my life has been forever changed for the better. Way better.
I could write a book just on how much God has clearly shown up in my life and worked miracles....real miracles. If you know me....you know that I'm crazy...but not in a way that I would just blindly believe in a bunch of hocus pocus in order to have a crutch. Because believe me, crutches don't last. I am an educated, hard-working, well-rounded, normal-ish person....and I believe in Jesus. Anything I've used other than God to fill the void in my life has all proven to be an idol...a golden calf, if you will. I don't want to be comforted, I want the truth. I never wanted to, and still don't want to, believe in something just because everyone else does. That's just not how I roll. In fact, I am the opposite. I want to do exactly the opposite of what people tell me to do most times. So, while my new life is a rebellion against the world and the philosophies and ideas of man....I am done with rebelling against God. I seriously can't do it anymore. If I even do one tiny thing that I think might be out of the will of God, or if I do something that might make someone stumble, I am on the floor praying to God to forgive me and redirect me. I know what it's like to live a life trapped by sin, but now that I know that Jesus has paid the price for me already....all I want to do is live the life of freedom that He bought for me with His life. He knew what was going to happen. He knew He was going to die. He knew it would be painful and agonizing, but He thought it was worth it. I love and worship a God that came to Earth in order to experience all of the temptations, pains, and worries that I experience. God humbled himself and became a human out of love. That used to be so hard for me to believe, but from where I am now....I have a hard time understanding why people struggle so much with it. Why wouldn't God act out in a drastic showing of love? God is love. God=love. He loves us. He doesn't want us to be robots, so He gave us free will. He knew it was risky because with choice comes a great responsibility. He knew we would choose wrong, but it was worth it to Him so that He could have love. Robots can't love. Only with choice can we have real love. I choose to love who I love...and I choose to love God. And what is really crazy....even if I never chose God...He would still love me. I'm not a parent, but I am sure that any good parent out there would sacrifice themselves for the lives of their children. If a human parent, who is flawed and imperfect, would sacrifice themselves for their children, then why wouldn't the Creator of the Universe? If I would have been the only person on Earth, He still would have thought it worth it to die for me. Whoa. That is hard to believe. I know I don't deserve it, but I thank God every day for it.
I know this blog is pretty intense, but I just can't help it. I am intense when it comes to God. I think it only makes sense to be intense about something that you really believe in. Everything that I am and everything that I do is because of what Jesus did for me. Of that fact, I am 100% sure. If you like me...it's because of Jesus. If you think I'm funny or cool...it's because of Jesus. If you think I'm pretty...it's because of Jesus. Because without him...I'm not likable, funny, cool, or pretty. At least not in a real and lasting way.
Haven't you ever been in love and all you can talk about is that person? Everything you talk about with them, you think about over and over again. You can't wait to see them again. One smile or word from them and your whole day is complete. You love the way they make you feel. You love the fact that they are interested in you and want to hear about you and your day. You just can't get them out of your mind.....well.....that's the kind of relationship I have with God. If you don't have that kind of relationship with God, then I hope you are jealous for one. Because God is jealous for one with you.
I don't want to believe in a God that I don't look forward to spending time with. I don't want to believe in a God that I feel obligated to. I don't want to believe in a God that doesn't protect me and give me strength. I don't want to believe in a God that doesn't touch my heart. I don't want to believe in a God that doesn't love me enough to die for me. And I don't want to believe in a God that isn't worth dying for.
Do I care? No.
I love you guys!