Pocket Change

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“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” -Matthew 6:26

Change is never easy! We have all those times in our lives when, whether expected or unexpected, something happens that for a brief moment in time sends our life into a spiral of upheaval and need! We ask ourselves over and over again, How are we going to make it?  I don’t know about you, but it’s in these times that I am forever guilty of depending on my own strength to get me through, and wouldn’t you know it, everything ends up falling even more apart! These past few months in Baltimore have been just such a spin! I knew there would be adjustment, that life wasn’t going to be a piece of cake, but I had no idea what God had in store.

Throughout the first four months of moving to Baltimore my car broke down twice; I have experienced the misery of bed bugs; I have locked myself out of my apartment twice; I’m up before four o’clock and not back home until four; I lost my gas cap; I’ve gotten three or four parking tickets because I have to pay to park everyday every two hours and sometimes I forget; I almost tripped over a homeless man sleeping on my porch one night- the list could go on. One little trial after another. Now, hang with me- this is by no means a “pat Katherine on the back fest!” This post is to glorify God!

Through all this change, and through every trial, God has continually proved to me that in my own strength I more than weak. I am utterly incapable of taking care of myself. You know those tickets… well for the past two weeks, I haven’t paid a dime out of my own pocket for parking and I’m always on time. Why? There is an older gentleman who comes in to Starbucks every single day who is from Georgia. And for some reason, I’m his selected favorite employee! So, for the past couple weeks he has come in every morning, not just to get his small coffee, but has brought with him at least four dollars in quarters for me to pay for parking. That’s right… everyday! And at 8am, he waves from his seat at the window and says, “Meter Time!” so I never forget. At first I didn’t recognize God in this… but then one day placing the meter ticket on my dash, the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper, “See, even in the smallest needs of your life, I will provide for you! I will be the one to take of your every need. Trust Me!” I had to stop in the moment and just stand in awe of God!

What goodness!!! What Love!!! That He would provide pocket change for me to pay for my parking! In the times that our lives are spiraling and it seems that one thing after another is out of control and that God isn’t in control, He is! I love that verse in Jeremiah as I’m sure we all do, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God is for us!!!! In every situation in our life, God will provide!!! Can I be real with you? These past few months, too often I have complained about God not providing for me, in my moment of need! I have been like Elijah sitting by the brook Cherith, and then God has gently chastised me by sending Ravens (no pun intended) to feed my soul.

So allow me to take a moment and tell you how in each situation He has more than provided- My car was repaired and for the past two months has run without a problem and MORE than that He gave- that’s right- FOR FREE-  me a more reliable car; I was able to treat my mattress and get rid of the bed bugs without having to burn down my apartment; miraculously I wake up every new early morning with renewed strength, God provided me a new apartment on the corner of the street my church is on so I don’t have to worry who may be on my front steps, he then furnished my apartment for FREE. Over and over again God continues to provide for me!

God has blessed me, not because of anything I have done, but because He delights in providing for me and me giving Him praise and glorifying Him for Who He is! If you’re going through a time of change, a time of need, be patient! God is working for you, behind the scenes to provide for every tiny need! He’ll provide you with pocket change, to say “I love you!” As life begins to settle down here in Baltimore, I ask you to pray that I won’t stop seeing God in every one and everything around me! He is here, and I am here so that people will see that He is!

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Sleeping on the Bus

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“A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:10-11

I had the opportunity to go to Baltimore, Maryland on two short term missions trips this year. Both of these trips have  now turned into a permanent missions endeavor as God continues to break my heart for the people and brokenness of that beautiful city! When I went on these trips, I had no idea that God would open the door for me to be able to serve there full time and if you had told me in January that God would break my heart to serve Him through missions, I sadly would have laughed; but how grateful I am today to see how God has moved through my life to kindle a fire in my heart for His glory!

It had been 10 years since I had last been in Baltimore when I returned this April for a short term missions trip with a group of college students from my church Mercy Hill. It was fun to see once again the few places that I remembered from when I was 13 years old! The city seemed more robust and alive than I remembered. I have always loved the city life and the constant hum of the hustle and bustle of it. We arrived very early on Friday morning in the city and rose a few hours after arriving to begin our work as a group at Jesus Our Redeemer. After completing a full day of painting and hard work, cleaning up the beautiful, historic church building we went back to the hotel to clean up for a night of babysitting! Very tired and exhausted we cleaned up quickly and headed out as a group to catch the prominent form of public transportation in Baltimore which is the bus system. Once we finally got onto a bus that had room enough for our group I found a seat and was grateful to have a moment to rest my feet. When I looked up, I saw directly across from me a woman who was clearly as exhausted as I felt. She was fast asleep! So much so, that her head was practically in her lap! It was somewhat comical and I had to sneak a picture of her as we rode down the bumpy streets. After several stops and people coming and going, I began to become concerned that the woman was not, in fact, going to wake up at all and miss wherever she needed to go! After three or four stops she suddenly lifted her head, looked around, and just as quickly as she had waked was back asleep again. I smiled to myself as I thought about how often this woman must do this and how unconcerned she seemed whether she missed the exact stop she needed. Since she wasn’t trying to keep herself awake, I didn’t bother to worry about having to clear my throat loudly to try and wake her up. Finally, she woke up quite suddenly as before, glanced around and signaled to the driver to stop so she could get off.

It became a comical story for me once I got back and I honestly didn’t think much about it until a few weeks after I returned. I was on my way to work one morning, and I was praying about serving in missions and possibly in Baltimore, and  God brought this woman again to my mind. My prayer sounded something like this, “God do you really want me to serve? I don’t want to move out of emotion. Lord, I don’t believe I’m ready to do anything like this. I don’t want to move out of my comfort zone. I want stability and comfort. I have dreams, you know! Are you really calling me to serve?” It was in that moment that the sweet, chastising voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Katherine, really? You’re asking me if I want you to go and serve the least of these and lift up my Son? Oh, and as far as your dreams… My Word says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 That sounds pretty stable and comforting to me. My plans are so far beyond your dreams, you couldn’t even imagine what I have in store. Katherine, it’s time for you to stop sleeping on the bus.”

I suddenly thought about the woman sleeping on the bus in Baltimore…and then it hit me. You see, the bus system is free public transportation carrying thousands of people from one place to the other. Salvation is free, and carries us from the mire of sin and shame into a new and glorious life in Christ!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

We have been given newness of life and rejoice in our salvation from the condemnation of sin and the burden of life without the hope of heaven, however I’m afraid that for too many Christians, including myself, that is as far as our journey goes. How odd would it be if I had gently shook the sleeping woman on the bus and asked where she lived and that she might want to stay awake so she wouldn’t miss her stop and she had replied that she lived on the bus, that she never got off… You see the bus itself wasn’t meant to be lived on! It is merely the conduit for going from one place to another. The Christian life is the same! Salvation was not created for us to get on, find a seat and then to settle into our comfort and eternal security forever! Our Salvation was not given freely to us at such a high cost for us to simply live on the “heavenly tram.” NO! Christian, you were made to GET OFF THE BUS!!!! We are to carry our newness of life into the world and tell others how they too can “get on the bus!” But too often we get so comfortable, that we fall asleep, oblivious to the needs of the dying world around us and the call to go. We may occasionally rouse out of our good moral slumber when a missionary comes to church or the pastor preaches a stirring sermon on the spiritual and physical needs of others, but as quickly as our hearts are burdened, we slip back into the sleep of omission.

Then one day, we wake from sleep and see, Oh we have reached the end of life on earth, and step off into eternity to meet our Lord and Savior. How heartbreaking it would be to stand before Him, and have nothing to show for the great generosity of grace that was bestowed on our lives. We should not wait until we stand before God to dwell on the richness and fullness of His forgiveness! Like the song I sang as a child, “today is the day,” today and everyday is the time to stand in the shadow of the Cross and let the grace and love we find there be “the pin on the seat” that jump starts our life into service for the Kingdom! Our salvation is not to be a seat that we choose to sit in but rather to be carried with us into every aspect of our life, being a constant reminder to remember the ultimate Love, Sacrifice, and Life- Jesus Christ!

“For he says,“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

In that sweet moment with God, I realized that God was opening the door of opportunity to serve Him and that is was time for me shake off sleep! It was time to serve, learn, and take my relationship with God to the next level! To learn more about His great love for this sinful world and my sinful self! I didn’t want to end my life by getting off the bus of salvation and entering heavens gates with nothing to give back to my Savior! So, are you sleeping on the bus? Have you settled into your seat? I challenge you to wake up, and see the goodness of God, “look full in His wonderful face!” Serving Christ with your life may require a life changing move or call to the mission field, but be open to whatever God may call you off the bus to do!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2