Monday, June 28, 2010

I See You!....

Last week was the annual Difference Makers Church F.U.S.E ministry (middle school/high school) camp and I was blessed enough to be a leader.  My brother, Kirk and his wifey Dana run the F.U.S.E. ministry, and they are simply.....amazing.  To say the least.  This was my first camp ever.  I never went to camp as a kid, so this was an amazing experience for me.  So much happened that I don't even know where to begin.  I feel like I've been in a cloud of wow! since I left camp last week.  One thing that I want to share is something that I feel like God is not only saying to me, but to everyone.

The first night of camp as everyone is singing, dancing, and worshiping God...I look out over all the kids and leaders, and I see Pastor Clark's littlest girl, Anna, walk up onto the stage where her Daddy is standing and the worship team is playing.  She is the cutest, sweetest, prettiest little angel.  She is, I believe, around 5 years old.  As she climbs up on the stage in front of the entire crowd, she just starts dancing.  She is slowly dancing like no one is around.  Occasionally she would stop dancing, but only to look up at her Daddy and make sure he was watching.  If he wasn't, she would gently tug on his pants leg.

I remember so many times as a little girl that I would do the same thing.  I wanted to be in the center of everything.  I wanted to be seen.  Throughout my life and even now, I still just....want to be seen.  I know it's not just me that feels this way, but something about seeing Anna doing the same thing I used to do and would still do....just spoke to me.

In Mathew 18 Jesus tells us that we have to be like a little child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  It was in that moment, seeing Anna dancing so carefree like she typically does, that I first really understood what that meant.  Anna has no problem what-so-ever climbing past all of the people that were worshiping and singing, and going straight up to her Daddy and make sure that he sees her.  There is no fear of rejection.  There is no fear of embarrassment.  There is no question as to whether or not her Daddy sees her and finds her precious.  There is not even a moments thought about getting right in her Father's face and dancing for him.

While I watched Anna's face light up as she danced around her Daddy.  I felt God say to me..."I see you".  Three simple words....but life changing words.  Isn't that what we all want?  Deep down....or not so deep down?  Don't we just want to be seen?  God wanted me to know, that He sees me....and that what He sees....He adores and loves more than words can express. 

Our relationships with our father's are so special and unique...whether you're a man or a woman.  I kept trying to write a blog on Father's Day about my Dad, but I just couldn't do it.  For some reason nothing I wrote seemed to be right, because I just couldn't find the words to express the complex yet simple relationship I have with my father.  Some of my most vivid and favorite memories are of the times as a kid, teenager, and adult that I have spend just me and my dad.  One of my earliest memories is of sitting in this big purple velvet chair in the living room beside my dad as he rocked back and forth in his LaZBoy.  He always has to be rocking.  (Kirk and I do too).  We were watching Charlton Heston play Moses in The Ten Commandments.  We stayed up until 2am just talking about life, God, the universe....anything and everything I could fit into that time with him.  I would have kept him up for days on end just to get the chance to see his eyes light up as he excitedly explained my many inquiries.  My dad was and is a captivating speaker and teacher.  That is why Kirk is such a natural and amazing preacher and teacher....he gets it from his dad. Of course we all have special and unique relationships with our mother's as well, but the relationship with our father is so very important. we see all over the world....we don't have a huge problem with motherlessness.....but we do have a huge problem with fatherlessness.  When you don't have a father or father figure in your life to give you the approval, pride, encouragement, and discipline that you will look for it elsewhere.  And if that elsewhere isn't God....then you will be let down and empty every time.

We want our father's approval.  We want him to see us.  We want him to be proud of us.  We want him to empower and encourage us. 

When I saw Anna up on stage, totally confident and comfortable in the fact that she is "seen"....she is precious....she is beautiful....she is loved.....she is approved of....she is wanted....she is just made my heart swell with both joy and sadness.  Joy - because this is how God sees each and every one of us when we boldly pursue Him and dance for joy in His presence in full confidence that He finds us all-together lovely.  Sadness - because one of the big reasons there is so much hurt and pain in the world is because people just don't know their Father.  Even Christians.  Even me.  They don't know that they are lovely and perfect in His eyes......and that He sees them.  Really really sees them.

My mom's favorite part of the movie Avatar is when they "I see you" to each other.  But, it's not just your average "seeing" that they are talking about in the movie.  It's more like how Namaste means, "the God in me, sees the God in you".   The Creator of the universe, Who knew you before the world was created, Who knit you together in your mother's womb.....sees you....whether you see Him or not.  He not only sees us physically, but He "sees" our hearts, our souls, our thoughts, our everything.  There is nothing we can hide from God....and just like Pastor Clark said.....He ain't afraid of our stinky ol' sin.  Jesus already died for our sins whether you want to accept it or not.  Jesus isn't afraid to come into your life, wherever you are.....and meet you there.  He already beat sin.  He is God.  So, why would any sin you could commit be anything He couldn't forgive and erase....if only you ask. He can "see" you when you are your prettiest, and He can "see" you when you are your ugliest.  And either way....He loves you just the same.

As I spent some time with these middle school and high school girls I learned A LOT.  I learned some cool new handshakes.  I learned not to get in a food fight with kids that can run faster than you.  I learned that the cool new fashion statement among the tweens are fun shaped rubber bands that you wear on your arm.  I learned that asking teenage girls to not use their cell phones and....GASP....not the equivalent of having your entire life taken from you and tossed into the raging sea never to be seen again.  But one thing kept coming into my mind as the week went on.  These kids...want so be SEEN.  The girls want to be seen by the boys as attractive.  They want to be the one that a guy picks out of all the other girls.  The boys want the girls to think they're tough and cool.  They want to be the one that a girl picks out of all the other guys.  The girls want the other girls to look at them and approve of them.  The boys want the guys to look at them and think they are tough and cool.  This doesn't change as we get older.  When we walk into a room, don't we just wish that someone in there is looking at us...seeing us?  Why do we spend so much money on clothes, new technology, cool cars?  It's because we want to stand out and be seen.  But this crazy race to have all the cool stuff....unfortunately....makes you just like everyone else.  You're blends. (That was the most uncool way possible for me to relay that message....I love irony).  What really stands out????  A rebel.  A rebel goes against the status quo.  A rebel does their own thing even when others don't agree or like it. If you really want to be impressive, you have to stand up for what's right when the rest of the world is telling you to sit down.  This is hard for me.  I know what's right....but I don't always do it.  I get so frustrated with myself.   But the truth is....even though this is hard to say....I would rather be alone than compromise myself, my beliefs, or my God.  And something that God LOVES to see.  And He's the only one that matters.

But if we really knew, deep in our souls, woven into our fabric like cloth, that God sees us just as we are, and thinks that we are perfect and beautiful and strong and COOL and amazing.....would we still kill ourselves with eating disorders, addictions, and all manner of other things that lead to more emptiness, destruction and death?  The devil is a liar....and one of his biggest lies is that we aren't lovely, perfect, and amazing in God's eyes.  He wants us to live in guilt and shame...always looking for the next way to fit in to the world's idea of beauty, cool, tough, funny, etc.  This is something that I struggle with all the time.  I want to live my life for God, but....some people may not think that is cool.  So I try to fit God into my life, which is worldly, instead of living my life for God despite being surrounded by things of this world.  I want to believe that I am beautiful and desirable without my makeup and without losing 10 pounds, but most times I lose that argument with myself and bend to the pressure to "look" a certain way.

As free as I am in my life, I still struggle with pushing my way to center stage, with my Father, full of confidence, to dance and sing.  I pray that God continue to show me, and all of us, our true beauty that can only be found in living your life for Jesus.  Cause I don't know about you all, but I can't stand another second of feeling like my Daddy can't see me....I think I'll pull on his pants leg....



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day Guest Blogger....

The Best Dad Ever

by Sharon Kay Eskew McNemar

  What makes  my dad the best dad a girl could ever want?  Well, when I think of him, all I can remember is a great smile, a big heart, the smartest man in the world,  the center of the family, a man who had a tough childhood but never knew it and the man who loved my sisters, my mom and I more than life.
     Russell Merl Eskew was the third child in a family of eight.  He grew up in logging camps.  His dad, Norvell Eskew "Runt” ran the log camp.  They did not have much growing up and my dad had to grow up fast.  He was driving log trucks when he was 16 years old.  I remember my Aunt Fay saying that there seemed to be new brothers and sisters all the time.  She suggested that the older kids keep an eye on their mom and dad and put a stop to all that nonsense.  They ended up with four girls and four boys, one child died at birth.  My grandmother, Freda, told me there was nothing to having babies.  She used to give birth and then fix breakfast for a log camp full of men.  Not a lot of time for affection or so it sounds to me.  Somehow, my dad became the most loving person I ever knew.
     My dad was so proud of my sisters and I.  He always encouraged us to do the best we could and then a little more.  All our neighbors loved my dad.  He would give them the shirt off his back if they needed it.  He would give and never expect anything in return.  I never heard him say that anyone owed him anything.  He never asked to be paid back.  Some people would pay him back but some people took advantage of him.   He always looked for the best in people.  He was a man of God and he lived his faith.
     When my husband, Randy, asked for my hand in marriage, my dad tried to make it hard on him.  He knew why we came to see him and he made Randy sweat a little.  When Randy asked what he thought of us getting married he said, “ If you love her as much as I do, that would be OK.” That’s my daddy!  He loved Randy like the son he never had.
     My dad taught me to drive and then he gave me his car that was a manual to teach myself how to drive a standard.  He told me I could use the car if I learned how to drive it.  I stopped and started about twenty times before I got to the main highway but I learned. 
     My dad got lung cancer and died when he was only 56 years old.  He was so brave through his illness.  He did not want to worry us.  He never complained.  The only time I saw his frustration was when he lost his voice and could not speak.  I know the illness happened but I usually don’t think about that memory.  I remember him singing to us and dancing with us.  I remembered a wonderful smile, a handsome face and a big heart.  I feel so lucky that Merl Eskew was my dad.  I still do things to make him proud.  I think all the time how proud he must be of his grandchildren.  Knowing him, I am sure he is proud of all the children from all of the families he knew.
     I wish all the fathers a Happy Fathers Day.  I have to give a special wish to my father-in-law, Denzil McNemar, also, a wonderful man and a great father.  Merl Eskew, you are the best dad ever.  Love you, Daddy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Stuff Christians Like...

Dude, I just bought this book "Stuff Christians Like"....and it  It's so funny that I kept doing that old man laugh.  You know, the one where you laugh so hard that you cease to make a sound, end with a wheeze, and then start coughing. 

Check out the website:

Jonathan Acuff, the son of a preacher man, started this blog in 2008 after the book "Stuff White People Like" came out.  If you are a Christian, you will love this book...because it will make you feel normal.  If you're not a Christian because you think we are all a bunch of uptight, judgmental Bible bashers...then you will love this book...because it will prove you right...JUST KIDDING!...because it will show you that us Christians are humans too...except for the Christian cyborgs...they're not technically human, but they are still funny as hell (hell is a Christian word, so I'm allowed to say it...don't send hate mail). 

I know this book and the website are controversial, but that's mainly because it reveals the Christian's deepest, well kept secret.....we're flippin funny.  All of us.  Yeah, even that one guy.

If you love Jesus, then you are basically equivalent to a stand-up, the funniest one ever.  It's a scientific fact.  All of this scientific stuff was done to all kinds of people and they found out the truth...each Christian in the world has the capacity to yield funniness so powerful that if used to it's fullest extent would make everyone on the planet pee their pants simultaneously.  Some of us hide this fact in the deep recesses of our souls...but that's only because millions of stand-up comedians making people pee their pants all the time, can be a little much.  We need a nice balance.  At our annual "What Should Christian's Say, Do, Feel, Look Like, Talk Like, Drink, Eat, Sing, and Wear Retreat Meeting Conference" all of the Christians in the whole wide world vote on who gets to be the funny, joyful Christians and who has to be the grumpy, angry, judgmental ones.  Thank goodness that each year, I have managed to be elected as a funny, joyful Christian.  Probably because each year I change my name on the registration form, but that's irrelevant.YAY FOR FUNNY!

Here's the deal...Loving Jesus, and living your life for God, isn't funny or something to take lightly at all.  I'm not "making fun" of Jesus and neither is Jonathan Acuff.  But, that being said....I tend to take myself and my situations in life, a little too seriously sometimes.  God wants us to be joyful.  He says it all the time in the Bible.  It a fruit of the Spirit of God.  Holy Spirit = Joy. What does it look like and feel like to be joyful?  When you are for real full of joy, can you help but laugh and smile?  I can't!  When I am full of joy, I am a smilin' and laughin' fool.  God loves laughter!  And let's be real...He obviously has a sense of humor.  Just look around you.  In DC, there are Police officers on Segways for goodness sake...I mean, really!?  How are you going to pull someone over on a Segway?  And what if you need to arrest them....are you going to cuff them and then have them hop of your back so you can roll down to the county jail? God laughs every time a police officer on a Segway tries to pull someone over.  It says so in the Bible somewhere...I think in Deuteronomy.

Sometimes when I take my situations in life a little too seriously, things get real unfunny real quick.  I'll be yuckin' it up one minute and then a thought will creep into my mind that reminds me that something in my life still sucks and the next thing you know...The sun creeps behind the clouds, I find myself walking down a lonely city street, everyone and everything is grey, I am cranking "Bittersweet Symphony" on my Ipod, trying to cry so I look extra needy to God, pondering how bad my situation currently is, and yet not really being quite sure exactly what my situation currently is...but just feeling like something sucks.  I do my best to look melancholy so that the world knows...hey, that girl's melancholy.  But, I don't really know what melancholy looks like so I just go with a frown/possible post stroke facial droop look.

What I need to be doing is listening to "Rhythm is a Dancer" and  run-dancing down the sunny city streets giving everyone double high fives because MY LIFE IS AWESOME even when it sometimes doesn't initially seem like it.  Instead of saying, I can't change, I can't change, I can't change, cause I'm here in my mold....I need to be saying....lift your hands and voices, free your mind and join us, you can feel it in the air!

Do you see how dangerous it can be to take yourself too seriously?

So, please....stop Bittersweet Symphonying your life.  It's not that bad.   And remember kids, every time a police officer on a Segway arrests a angel gets it's wings.


Funny Christian Katie

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Gotta Climb in Order to Rise Above!...

Hello everyone!!!!! I took a brief unplanned blogging hiatus.  But I miss you!!!!  I never force myself to blog, so if it ain't flowin'...I ain't typin'.  Sometimes I just know that I need to be still and wait on God.  There has been just so much going on in my life over these last few weeks.  God is definitely moving.  I know that BIG things are not only on the horizon....but they are HERE.  Right now!!!! AMEN!

For those of you that have been following my "slight" obsession with all things Indian and Bollywood...I had ANOTHER DC Bollywood moment!!!!!  I LOVE THIS CITY!!!!  Let me also say, before I get started, that my wonderful, amazing, spectacular mother bought me a Bollywood cookbook.  One of the best parts about it is, she bought the book at Gabe's in WV!!  It is seriously the coolest thing EVER.  I'll update everyone on how my first crack at making Indian cuisine goes. In the meantime...I'll just be content to look at the pictures!  Anyway, I've been taking the bus a lot lately (and not because most romantic Bollywood moments  involve public transportation...even though, in my personal opinion, that would be a worthy motivation if the soaring gas prices and lack of parking spaces weren't enough for you).  On Saturday, after working all morning and afternoon at a conference, I begrudgingly took the bus to the grocery store to stock up on some single people food.  Ya know, pack of fat free cheese slices, chunky peanut butter, deli meat, cereal, fruits and veggies, and...of course...buttered popcorn jelly belly beans (mostly just random items that in no way fit together to make an actual meal...and usually go bad before you get to eat them....BUT are small and light enough that you can carry in your reusable 100% recycled grocery bag...that you have a million of.  God forbid you are seen still carrying plastic, DC now charges 5 cents per bag...but I digress).  It was 90 degrees outside with what had to be 100% humidity.  It felt like I was walking through warm water.  I felt like I needed to grow gills in order to breath.  I was wearing an all black suit...very Johnny Cash.  Good for 45 degree conference rooms.  Bad for walking in a sauna.  Other than being filled with sweat, the black suit was actually quite fetching, if I do say so myself.  However, the leopard print Franco Sarto high heels (that's my own personal version of "professional", okay)  I was wearing at the conference were now replaced with white Gap flips.  My once somewhat styled hair was now a mass of frizzy curlyness.  Even careful bobby pin placements were no match for the humidity. I looked like a blonde version of Rosanna Rosanna Danna (old school Saturday Night Live character played by Gilda Radner).  My makeup had melted down my face a few inches.  I was exhausted and wasn't exactly feeling my most beautiful at that moment.  (Little did I know at that time that later that night I would dance for 3 hours straight and get so soaked with so much sweat that my fingers would start to prune! Slight exaggeration....LOL!  Dancing in a crowd + no air conditioning = big sweaty mess.)

After making my ten items or less purchases and enjoying the air conditioning, I went outside into the hot-tub-like atmosphere to wait for the bus.  I couldn't wait to get home.  As I was impatiently waiting, a hot guy managed to arrive in my proximity without my noticing.  Very unlike me.  Had I noticed him, I probably wouldn't have complained out loud over and over again to no one but myself, about how when the weather is this hot they should have more buses.  However, due to my exhaustion verging on heat stroke...I was too preoccupied to notice his arrival.  When I saw the bus coming, I rushed to the edge of the sidewalk.  I was so excited that I totally left my grocery bag along the brick wall where I was sitting.  I rush onto the bus and feel the immediate shock of air conditioning against my skin, happiness began to enter my life again.  Right as I sit down, I look up and see this super hottie getting on the bus.  My first thought...that guys hot.  My second thought...and he and I carry the same Trader Joe's grocery cute!  As I am mentally planning our future together, he looks up and locks eyes with me and smiles.  There are tons of empty seats between us, but for reasons I couldn't possibly fathom...he was walking back to where I was sitting.  He sits in the seat right in front of me and turns around and hands me the Trader Joe's bag and with a smile says, "I think you left this."  I thank him...a little too profusely, per the usual...and take the bag.  My constructed future with him began to crumble...our foundation of having similar shopping bags was now no more.  It's like....I didn't even know him anymore.  I mean, he could still carry plastic bags for all I know....!  How silly was I to think that he would walk all the way to the back of the bus to talk to an exhausted sweaty mess that looks like she just left a funeral home?  (The heat was obviously frying my brain and I momentarily forgot that regardless of exhaustion and sweatyness...I am FABULOUS!!!!!!  WOOOO WHHOOOO!)  Just as I am about to mentally start a future with someone else...he turns around and says..."I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm actually glad you left your gave me a reason to talk to you."  BLUSH!!!  We spent two amazingly wonderful blocks together.  We barely said two words, but we just kept smiling at each other.  As he was getting off the bus, he turned around, smiled and waved.  We kept waving and smiling at each other as he walked down the sidewalk and the bus pulled away.  We didn't even ask each others names.  And that, my friends, is how it's done.  Another beautiful DC Bollywood moment.  It was almost like God was trying to tell me....even when you think you look your worst and you feel too tired to're still beautiful.  SMILE! : )  I nicknamed him Ol Blue Eyes...cause, well...his eyes were blue!

As I said above, God is moving in my life, and the lives around me,right now in a huge way.  Do you want to hear something that is going to knock your socks off?!  Let me tell you about a dream I had over a year and a half ago.  At the time, I totally didn't understand it.  I wrote it down because I knew that God was speaking to me.  God speaks to me through my dreams all the time.  I am SO thankful that He does!  I re-read what I wrote a few weeks ago and was like...whoa.  At the time I had the dream, I was living in  Germantown MD and commuting 3 - 4 hours a day to my jobby job at Georgetown Univ Hospital in DC every day.  In the dream, I am standing on top of a cemetery hill in Georgetown.  The sun is shining behind me and by the way everything looks it was probably around 6 o'clock in the evening.  From where I am standing I can see all of DC.  I remember looking down to my right and seeing the cathedral in Georgetown.  As I am looking out over the city, the ground beneath me turns from solid ground to pebbles.  I start to lose my footing and start to fall off the side of the hill of the cemetery.  As I am slowly going over the steep hillside, I look up at all the gravestones and see the sun shining behind them.  All of a sudden I just start clawing and pushing my way back up to the top with all the strength that I had.  The loose, smooth stones made it so hard to get a grip so I just dug my hands and arms in deeper.  For every foot I would get, I would slip a few inches, but I was determined to get back to the top of that hill. I refused to just slide away.  Finally, I get to the top of hill and that is where the dream ends.   And now, guess where I live? Yep, I live in Georgetown.  And do you know what happens to be situated just one block from my apartment building!?  Yep, a cemetery on a steep hill that overlooks DC.  Socks knocked off yet!?  The craziest part is that when I had that dream, in no way did I think it had anything to do with me moving to DC.  I had already told myself that I would never live in  I vowed to live on the outskirts...but never in the city itself.  That....would be too hard.  I am the epitome of "if you want to make God laugh...tell Him your plans." : )  It was long after that dream had been forgotten that I decided to move to DC.  And thank you God that I did because now I know for sure that this is where God wants me to be.  One day after I moved into my apartment, I was walking down Wisconsin Ave, and I looked up to see....dun dun gueesed it.....this beautiful cemetery on a hill.  I promise you, I am being totally honest with you when I say that this is the EXACT same cemetery that I dreamed of. I had never been in that cemetery in my life, but I knew that when I walked to the top of the hill what I was going to see.  It was so emotional.  I cried.  I just couldn't believe that God had given me a dream about this place and here I was standing right in the middle of it.  It wasn't until recently did I realize the significance of what God showed  me in the dream.  The cemetery is just blocks from where I live, but that wasn't the only message.  The most important thing God was trying to show me...almost warn me, that if I want to follow His plan for me in this city, I am going to have to fight to not slide off the hill and give up.  The grave stones represent all the dried up, dead souls walking around the city.  The sun shining down was God telling me that He is there.  I also think that God was trying to tell me that when you hang out in a grave yard for too start to focus on death.  Where and with whom I spend my time, and what I am saying and doing in that time is very important.  In the dream, as I was standing in the graveyard, the sun was behind me.  It's almost like I had turned my back on God....and that's when I started to lose my footing.  The other day, I was taking the bus home from a bad day at work.  I felt totally apathetic and like I was fighting a losing battle.  It was starting to rain, but as I looked out the window of the bus, I saw the sun peaking through the clouds.  It was so beautiful.  I wanted to keep looking at it, but the tall building kept getting in the way of my view.  But then I felt God say to me...."Then I guess you need to go higher than the buildings that are blocking your view."  After getting off at my stop, I went straight up to the roof deck of my building and looked out over the city.  I could see all of DC, and even NOVA and MD.  It was starting to rain again, but I didn't care.  I almost welcomed it, because it matched my mood.  Just as I was standing there, feeling defeated....the sun comes out again behind me (see picture above in order to see what I saw).  I was like God was saying to me...."When there is something in the way of seeing me....get above it!"  The sun lights up the city for a few moments.  While the sun was out, my eye is drawn to something I have never noticed before.  I could see the cemetery from where I was standing.  Right in the front is a huge gravestone with a cross on it.  It was in that moment that I remembered my dream from so many months before.  I just sat there and soaked it all in.  It was just a totally WOW! moment.  God had warned me.  This is going to hard.  No doubt about it. I'm going to want to give up and limit myself and even worse, limit God.  I'm going to have to come to a place where I expect God to complete the work He started in me and not ever lose belief and faith.  But, just like I did in the dream...I will fight and not slip away.  I have a purpose here.  There are some mountains that you climb with every ounce of your strength, and then there are other mountains that you have cast into the sea, because they are blocking your view of God's purpose.  (Pastor Michael has been preaching this AMAZING message in church about The Living One: The Two Mountains. It's changed my life!)  That day on my roof deck, I realized that even though I am going to lose some footing every now and then, if I can persevere and keep on climbing the mountain God gave me and get rid of any obstacles that block my vision and purpose....then I will not fail.   God's favor is on me.  No limits.  No negative thoughts.  No fading away.  I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

Love you all!!!!

Katie the Conqueror