Sunday, June 26, 2011

On The Road Again...

I'm leaving today to spend the week in Maryland as a ministry leader with the Difference Makers Church middle/high school F.U.S.E camp.  I can't belive it's been a year since I dressed up like Lady Gaga and wrestled with my seething ball of disgustingness!

Yes.  I'm wearing a space suit and a giant yellow comb in my hair.
If you're asking yourself how Lady Gaga could in any way be related to ministry, you're asking the right kinds of questions, my friend.   Through the gift of song (or more accurately, the gift of lip syncing), I instructed the campers not to use their "telephones" during camp.  Let this be a lesson to all parents: kids will listen to someone in a space suit.  (If you want some additional parenting advice from another person that doesn't have any kids, check out Tony's guest post about the parenting tips he learned from watching the Dog Whisperer.  Compelling and rich.)

After F.U.S.E camp, I will be picking Tony up in Baltimore and we'll both come back to Buckhannon together to get my Uhaul loaded up for the 20 hour ride to Southern Florida

As I sit here typing on my parent's old Dell desktop for most likely the last time, I am overwhelmed with how amazing these last 5 months in my hometown have been.  Over the last week I have gone from someone that can't cry  to someone that cries every five seconds.  Of course no one has actually seen me cry, because that would be like seeing a leprachuan riding a unicorn, or Ashley from the Bachelorette not crying, or Blanche Devoroux turning down a gentleman caller, or Luke Skywalker joining the dark side, get the picture.

You'll just have to take me at my word.

Even though I'm excited to be with Tony and look forward to this crazy adventure God has lined up for us, I'm going to miss so many things here. 

It's hard to leave.

I'm going to miss lazy days spent out at our camp on the river with a beer in one hand and my feet in the cold waters of the Buckhannon River.  West Virginia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  No wonder people refer to it as "God's country" and "Almost Heaven".   I love this place so much.  It's so hard to even put it into words.  One day when I meet God in Heaven, I am sure He'll walk up to me holding a handfull of WV wild flowers and lead me through the pearly gates and into a land where the green covered mountains echo the distant sounds of the fiddle and banjo, and the rivers sing a song that my heart has always known. 

I'm going to miss my dog, Bailey.  She's been my little buddy.  I will especially miss her coming into my room in the middle of the night and curling up at the end of my bed.  Waking up with her dog breath in my face always makes me laugh and smile.  Don't worry, I'm still going to talk to Bailey over the phone so that I can continue to keep all of you informed about A Dog's Life

I'm going to miss hanging out with my friend, Dionne.  I feel so blessed to have had this time to get to know her better.  She has talked me down off of some pretty high ledges over these last few months.  I love being around people like her that don't worry about what other people think and just go out and be who they are.   I am pretty sure that the amazing folks down at the  88 Restaurant & Lounge thought we had moved in as much as we were down there.  I've had the opportunity to make new friends since I've been home and each one of these amazing people have changed my life.  I wish I would have had more time to get to know Katie, Jill, and Bethany. 

I'm going to miss hanging out with Heather and Kylie.  The three of us have spent a lot of time together over these last few months.  I've learned so much from being with them. I've learned to play Ring-Around-The-Rosy for 45 minutes straight without passing out.  I've learned that to feed a 2-year-old you have to make eating into a game.  I've learned that kids love being naked.  I've learned that 2-year-olds hate the word "no" more than they hate nap time.  And I think that Kylie has learned a few things from me.  She learned how to "cheers" with her sippy cup.  She learned a few choice words and phrases that will hopefully be forgotten before she goes off to school.  She's learned that I will play with her until I fall over just to see her smile.  She's learned that I love her with all my heart.   I think the hardest of all is being far away from Heather.  She is my cousin, but really, she's my sister.  She is one of those people that will do anything for anyone at any time no matter what.  She loves to laugh and smile and even when she is tired to the bone will stay up all night talking to me about my problems even though they are tiny in comparison to the worries she carries.  Heather always believes in me, watches out for me, and loves me no matter what I do or have done.  I know that we'll still talk on the phone, but I sure am going to miss her hugs.

I'm going to miss hanging out with my Aunt Debbie and my Uncle Ronnie.  They spent quite a few nights and one memorable 16 hour drive to Florida getting to know me better and sharing their hearts and time with me.  Luckily, they have a place in Florida that is only a few hours away so we'll get to see each other.

I'm going to miss my Grammy.  She's lived 89 amazing years and has the stories to prove it.  I've loved hearing her stories about she and my Grandpa and how much they loved each other.  She's always given me amazing advice.  The first time I showed her a picture of Tony, she looked up at me with her jaw hanging open and her eyes wide and said, "Well, Katie....He's the ONE!  The one I've been praying for.  It's him!!" 

I'm going to miss my Mom, Dad, Kirk, Dana, and their future little Baby McNemar, Bella Grace.  This will be the furthest I've ever been from them and makes my heart hurt.  I've been trying not to think about it, but I can't help it.  I lived near Kirk and Dana while I was in DC and was always lived just a few hours drive from home ever since I left when I was 18. 

Kirk and Dana are the most amazing two people you could ever meet.  I've always looked up to my brother and am so happy that he has someone as loving and fun as Dana by his side.  They are going to be amazing parents.  It's going to be hard to be far away from them, especially after they have little Bella.  I am excited to be spending this next week with them at F.U.S.E camp right before I head south.  They have always been there for me, supported me, prayed for me and with me, and loved me.  I can't wait to see how God uses them for His kingdom.  He has already used them in so many amazing ways. 

My Mom is my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. It's been so great living in the same house as her again.  Especially when I got really sick a few months ago and needed my mommy.  For years I've had to take care of myself and be strong.  But sometimes you just need your mommy to make you tea and cinnamon toast.  Without her support and encouragement I don't know where I would be.  She has rescued me a million times in my life and most of the time I've paid her back with nothing more than a short thank you.  She has always given to me and never expected anything in return.  Not even for me to pay attention to her.  She is the most selfless, giving person I've ever met and I pray to one day be just like her.  I already look just like her so I'm starting off pretty well. 

I've always been Daddy's girl.  My dad and I are a lot alike.  Over these last few months I've grown closer to my Dad than I ever have been.  One of my very favorite things to do is to sit and talk to my Dad.  I love hearing his stories, debating and discussing things with him, and getting his advice even when I don't like what he has to say.  I realized that all the years when I was younger and rebelling that I ignored my dad's advice and pushed him away, he was trying to love me and steer me in the right direction.  It's going to be hard to be far away from my dad.  He doesn't like to talk on the phone and when I tried to explain Skype to him he looked at me like I was speaking Russian.  Even if I don't get to see him much, I feel so blessed that I had these last 5 months to spend with him and get to know him better.

I could go on, but I think I'm getting dehydrated from all the crying. 

The next time you hear from me will be from the sandy shores of Southern Florida.  Please be praying for our F.U.S.E. camp this next week, as well as for Tony and I as we both make some really huge transitions.  I know I need all the prayers I can get. 


Ramblin Woman

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Final Countdown...

In just a few short weeks, I will be leaving the mountains (or hills if you live in the Rockies) of West Virginia for the sunny beaches of Southern Florida.  Time for another adventure!

Understandably, The Final Countdown is my song of choice while I count down the days to finally live in the same town as Tony.  (80's songs are the soundtrack of my life.  Don't judge.)

When I left DC five months ago, I would have never imagined that God could do so much in my life and in the lives of those around me, in such a short amount of time.  Prayers I've been praying for years have been answered right in front of my eyes.  God has taken me back to some places that I would have never visited had I not been living here.  He has shown me over and over again just how much I've grown and changed.  

The Old me was finally laid to rest amongst the hills where she was born.

I've been through quite a few tough times in my life.  But nothing has been harder or more anxiety producing than letting Tony into my heart.  I didn't understand the struggle at first.  Why would loving someone so completely amazing be a hard thing to do?  I realized that I've let men into my heart that didn't belong there and the damage caused from doing so left me building ever-higher walls of protection.  Until I met Tony, I had never experienced a relationship with someone that wanted to pursue me, protect my heart, go slow, get to know me, share their heart with me, show me respect, and love me unconditionally. 

Due to the high walls built around my heart, Tony has had to take each brick down one at a time as I would go in behind him and put them back up.  Each time a section of my wall would come down and he would get in, I would feel the same kind of panic as if I was being invaded by an enemy.  Much like a transplant patient can reject a new, healthier organ, Tony felt out of place in the trampled garden of my heart. 

Real, selfless love changes you.  And maybe I didn't want to be changed. 

Sometimes we get comfortable with the fortified walls we build.  Sometimes we get comfortable with disfunction. 

We feel safe in the prison we create when we let our past pains and fears harden us.  The danger is that with a hardened heart you can't love.  You can't love others, you can't love yourself, and you can't love God. 

God doesn't just suggest that we love one another.  He commands it.  In fact it's a part of the most important commandment of all. 

Luke 10:27 "He answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." (emphasis mine)
In order to love, we have to be willing to let our hearts be vulnerable.  That's a tough thing to do when you've been hurt; as we all have.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  It doesn't say fortify your heart.  It doesn't say close your heart.  It doesn't say hide your heart.  It says to guard it. 

When we let people into our hearts that we can trust to take care of it, we find people that will stand guard at the doors of our heart with us.  We don't have to guard our hearts by ourselves.  When we try to do that, we will eventually end up building walls.  We aren't meant to do things alone.  Building walls is the only way one person can defend something so big.  Our hearts are designed to be big enough to hold an infinite amount of love. 

It's that love that is the wellspring of life.

It is Jesus that is the living water. (John 7:37-38)

As I pack up my things and prepare to embark on this new adventure, I am so thankful to God that He wasn't content to let me continue through life with my walls up.  The only way I can follow Him wherever He leads is if I leave the walls behind and trust Him with my heart.  Each brick we place in the wall is another hindrance to our freedom.  My pride and selfishness have to be left in the dust as I run with perserverance the race marked out for me.  (Hebrews 12:1)



Monday, June 13, 2011

Baby Gates...

I have a new prayer.

Instead of just asking God to "open and close doors" for me, I'm going to start asking for Him to put up some baby gates for me as well.

When my brother, Kirk, and I were just little tykes my parents had a baby gate at the top of a long staircase that lead to our basement.  In the early eighties baby gates were made of metal fittings, sharp plastic, and wood with tons of splinter potential.  They acted as a barrier as well as created the same effect as the razor blade wire that you see atop of jailhouse gates.

I think  I still have baby gate scars.

One of my favorite photos from our childhood is a pic of my brother trying to climb over the baby gate.  The reason it's one of our faves is because whichever one of our parents that took that photo thought it best to take a snapshot instead of rescuing Kirk from potential harm and whisking him to safety.  "Who was on baby duty that day?", Kirk asked our parents as they smile coyly and quickly change the subject.

Kirk and I were allowed to go into the basement.  Just not by ourselves.  The stairway was much too difficult and dangerous for toddlers to traverse sans a hand to hold.  But once we were safely downstairs, we could run free. 

To me, a baby gate says, "You aren't ready to go in this area alone."  And that's why I pray for God to put up baby gates for me.

There are things in life that aren't good for us to try and tackle on our own.  We need people to walk with us, encourage us, pray for us, pick us up, and we do the same for them.  We need to take time to pause and evaluate the environment we are about to enter into. Is it safe?  Could we get hurt?  Am I gonna need backup?

Sometimes when God opens a door for me, I just run right through it without realizing that I've basically run into a burning building without any help or protection.  The baby gate would help me to stop and pause before I go it alone. 

I just pray the baby gates God gives me aren't easy to climb over. 

I'm a stubborn, stubborn lady.



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Butt I Digress...

When you really need someone to help you, like in a robbery, fire, or assault situation, statistics (which I will not be providing because I'm lazy) have shown that most people will carry on as if they didn't just see what they saw.  It's a rare few that step into action and actually do something rather than walk away quickly in the other direction or pull the newspaper up over their eyes.

I'm going to tell you a story about a brave woman that defied the odds and reached out to help me.

This happened about six years ago.  I came to DC to visit my boyfriend at the time who was there for work for a few months.  We spent a day being all touristy and went from monuments to museums kinda like that scene from National Lampoon's European Vacation when they go to visit the Louvre.  Our last stop on the tour de Washington was the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  It was a Saturday during the peak of tourist season in the nation's capital so the crowd was thick, agitated, and most unfortunately...sweaty.

After perusing the museum for about an hour we went into the room with the T. Rex to cool off.  As I was standing there, someone tapped me on the shoulder.  I spun around to see what was going on and this sweet young lady, that didn't speak any English, was whispering something to me that I didn't understand.  She could tell that I didn't understand her so she started motioning something to me with her hands.  I still didn't understand.  Then, she pointed at my butt and blushed.

As I turned and looked down at my derriere, I saw more than I had expected.

My skirt was tucked into my underwear.

Not just a little bit. 

All. the. way. tucked in.

Right butt cheek, meet the people of the Smithsonian.  People of the Smithsonian, meet my right butt cheek.

I immediately untucked my skirt and turned bright red.  I hugged that wonderful brave soul and thanked her in the only way I know how....a high five.  Yes.  Yes I did. 

It immediately hit me that the first thing I did when we got to the museum was visit the ladies room.  The realization that my butt cheek had been exposed the entire time we had been walking around sunk in like a tons of bricks.

The next thing I did was turn to my boyfriend with fire blazing in my eyes wondering why in the world he didn't tell me that I had been walking around with my skirt tucked into my underwear for a solid hour or more.  His defense was that he had no idea because hadn't looked at my butt for over an hour.  He quickly realized that came out all wrong and went for what he felt was the compliment route, "Well, of all the displays in the Smithsonian today, I bet yours was the one most photographed!"

I thought back to how I had bent over really far to view the Hope Diamond and wondered how many people got some extra hope that day.

I was so embarrassed.  I think my face was perma-red for the rest of the day.  The paranoia crept in as we exited the museum.  I held onto my skirt as if it was going to tuck itself back into my underwear against my will.  Everyone that was laughing must be laughing at me.  If anyone looked at me, I had to restrain myself from yelling, "SHOWS OVER PERV!" at them. 

I was so thankful that out of all the people that saw my butt that day, someone was finally brave enough to come over to me and let me know.  And she didn't even speak my language.  She didn't give up on me when I didn't understand her at first.  She kept trying ways to make me understand without spinning me around and untucking it herself.  She didn't want to embarrass me so she tried to whisper and make small gestures.  That truly did take a lot of guts.  For all the people that saw my butt and laughed, pointed, and took pictures...there was someone that was willing to take a risk and let me know so that I could fix it.

(I'm fixin' to pull a Pastor Matt, and Jesus Juke this story.)

When we see someone that is struggling with sin, intead of talking about them behind their backs, judging them from affar, and avoiding them so that we don't have to get our hands dirty or spend our own energy, we need to be brave and let them know.

I can make a million excuses to keep sin in my life.  And I do.  Oh, boy, do I.  But sometimes I don't realize I'm sinning until someone is brave enough to step out of the crowd of pointers and gazers, and help me see it and fix it.

I'm not saying this is an easy thing to do.  People don't like to be called out on their sin.  They could get mad at you, deny there is a problem, and ignore you.  Sin is a messy business, friends.  Messy indeed.  That's why it takes someone brave, loving, merciful, and graceful to fight it. 


Stubborn Ass

What is the best way to call people out on their sin without being too judgmental?  Have you ever had someone call you out on sin in your life?  Have you ever unknowingly walked around with your butt showing?  Let's talk.....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tears of Clown...

Baby Katie and Papa McNemar

I don't cry much. 

I'm not proud of it or anything. It's just the truth.

I want to, I really do.  I just....can't. 

I always secretly giggled at people that cry during commercials.  I didn't get it. How can something that only lasts about 2 or 3 minutes touch you enough to start the water works?  I know what you're thinking, and no, I don't have a coal black heart that beats only when kittens die.  I do have feelings...I swear!

I just can't cry.

But then something happened a few days ago...

I was innocently catching up on episodes of Vampire Diaries (I heart you, Damon Salvatore!) online, when I was emotionally assaulted by this commercial:

I didn't expect it, so I didn't prepare myself for it....but I cried like a baby when I watched this.

Sure, the baby is cute and the idea that a dad would do something so sweet and amazing touches me, but it was something else that made me cry.

At the end of the video, when the dad is typing, "Until then....Love, Dad" I got a vision of this:

Until then....



Watch it again and think about it.

I don't think I need to elaborate.


Ball Baby