stepping out diaries: canadian style

Monday, October 29

hello dearest readers!
i am currently frolicking through germany with my little sister
probably freezing to death and eating lots of schnitzel and pretzels
and being spoiled by our dear family!

but today, you are in for a treat with our guest blog author Chantel.
i met Chantel through blogging, and to say that's she's inspiring is a bit of an understatement.
you can follow her sweet blog here.

there are a lot of people who find excuses to why they can't be a "missionary" where they live.
you may not think you are "called" to be a "missionary"
 but as a Christ follower, we are ALL called to be
whether you live the ghetto, the suburbs or an urban area,
the call to die to self and to live for God and love our neighbors as ourselves is for

no exception.
if you're still wondering, go read Matthew 25:31-46.
ok, so now that you're tracking with me.

Chantel is a beautiful example of  someone who prays to reach and love her neighbors.
Enjoy her story.....

Hey guys, I am excited to be posting on Hope Engaged today while Katie is away. I have been reading Katie’s blog for a couple of months now and always love to hear what is on her heart and the great things God is doing in her life. My absolutely favorite series’ of Katie’s is her Stepping Out Diaries and I have really been challenged in the last few months to step out in my own community.

I grew up in a town that would be considered a predominantly Christian community. If you asked the people in my hometown if they were Christians I bet 95% of them would say yes. For some of them it would be true and for others all they truly meant was that they believe in Christ, but not that they follow Him in any form. I now live in a different town but the attitudes are very much the same. Many see church as a place you go to for Christmas and Easter (at best) and since they live in a nice neighborhood and have good paying jobs they don’t have to rely on God to get through every day, they believe they are doing a good job of getting by on their own.

These are the people in my community and God has really given me a heart for them in the last few months. While I was praying for them I began to realize that just having a burden for these people wasn't enough, I needed to start getting to know them and sharing God's Word with them.
Back in the summer I was really praying for God to open up a way for me to get to know the people in my community. And boy, did He answer quickly!

The week I began praying to meet more of my neighbors I started meeting other parents at the park when I took my daughter to the swing (something she begs to do everyday). It seemed everytime we went out we met someone new and each time I made a point of getting out of my comfort zone and trying to start a conversation to try to get to know some of the mothers in my neighborhood.

A few weeks after I started praying for an opportunity to share the Gospel to those in my community I got a random phone call (well, random to me, not to God). It was a lady from a program called 5 Day Clubs, asking if I would host a club for the next week to fill in for a cancellation. If you are unfamiliar with the 5 Day Clubs in essence they train Christian people (usually university students) to go around from community to community putting on a one hour club everyday for one week for the children to attend. During that hour they sing songs, hear Bible stories, stories of people that followed God and they also memorize verses. I saw this as a complete answer to my prayers and of course I said yes right away. They sent little brochures for me to hand out door to door in the area which was another great opportunity to stop and talk to people that I would normally just smile at while I was walking but not actually talk to.

Throughout the week of the 5 Day Club I got to meet some of the children in my community as well as their parents. All week long we sang songs praising God, heard stories about His power and memorized verses about His love.

The leaders of the club made a point to ask each child that came if they go to church on a regular basis and as I suspected, most of them didn't. I was so excited that their parents still allowed them to come and was praying they would take home some of what they learned during the week and share it with their parents.
I am still amazed with how quickly and directly God has been answering my prayers about my community, it has just confirmed in my heart that I am supposed to be witnessing to those in my neighborhood.

I am excited to continue to develop the relationships I have begun with the ladies I have met and to show them Christ’s love through my actions and through my words. I would love your prayers as I continue through this journey and I also want to challenge you to look around your neighborhood and share the Gospel with those who live around you.

love Chantel

travel log: germany and greece

Tuesday, October 23

i'm off to europe this Thursday. 
to say i'm excited is an understatement. 

for starters, i get to see this little lady. 
{disregard the placement of her undershirt! ha}
my baby sister. 
and one of my favorite people on the planet. 
she's studying living in florence
("studying" might be debatable)
i think they just need to start calling "study abroad" programs what they really are...
"living and traveling abroad programs!" haha
i'm pretty sure I never did any homework when i lived in italy! 

but what's a girl to do when her sister is living in europe? 
i say GO VISIT! 

now, i know i know...
you're probably asking me how the heck I can afford this travel! 
i work for a non-profit on a shoestring budget
and my husband sells bagels. 
we're not rollin' in the hamilton's if you know what I mean...

so how have we been able to do the following travel this year? 
 {May/June Kev and I went to England, Scotland and Ireland}
{August my family went to Alaska}
{and now i'm off to Europe again} 

i'll give you a's NOT because we're loaded. 

but in order to share my secrets, i'm planning a blog series on 
"how to travel ridiculously cheap and get free flights"
or something like that. 
you'll just have to wait till next month to milk me for all my travel know-how. ha! 

Polly and I decided to go visit some of our family in western Germany in Dusseldorf! 
I honestly think my favorite travel memories are when we stay with friends or family...
it's really the way to go! 
they know the area and are built in tour guides, cook yummy meals, offer a sweet place to stay, and best of all, the memories made are ones I cherish for a lifetime!! 

we then decided, "what the heck! let's go to Greece"
because how can you pass up the greek isles when ryanair is so CHEAP?!?
we couldn't. 

so there you have it. 

and lastly, while I am planning to do a blog series on travel (because traveling is SO feasable if you know how to do it right) the real answer to how i've been able to travel so much is sweet Abba. He has opened so many doors for me and my family, and I can't really take credit for that. God is just SO good to give us the desires of our heart.
 He has SUCH an EPIC spirit of ADVENTURE to Him! 
{don't forget that}

He delights in JOY, in LAUGHTER, and in BEAUTY
and traveling brings about all 3

so here's to the God who is fabulously crazy fun-spirited....
Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"

love Katie a shout-out, my other beautiful sister is currently living and working in Costa Rica. Love you Lena Bean and miss you! Wish I could come visit you too:) 

food for the body, food for the soul

Sunday, October 21

this past week the Lord was kind to me. 
He is always kind, 
but often I am too preoccupied with "my plan" 
to see the hidden treasures in HIS. 

A few of you may know that I have an autoimmune disorder called lupus. 
It's been a journey, it really has. 
For years I struggled not knowing what was going on in my body. 
the physical pain unbearable at times,
and the emotional and psychological strain even more so. 

my freshman year in college I woke up and couldn't move, and so began a 2 year long testing of all that could potentially be wrong with me. 
the doctors were stumped, they had no idea. 
i could hardly walk without 9 advil a day, and running became a stretch. 

i looked perfectly healthy on the outside, but I wasn't on the inside. 
a few years out of college, frustrated, I started doing my own research.
i walked into the doctors, convinced it was lupus, and asked them to test me. 
they did.
it was positive. 

the ups and downs were difficult, but I was thankful to know what was going on in my body. 
The years following, I saw little improvement. 
however, the last year and a half i've been seeing an amazing doctor who uses a very holistic approach to treating me. 
i've healed in tremendous ways. 
i have more energy, i'm not as achey or tingly, my strength has returned.  
to sum it up, I feel like a normal person again. 

yet, in the last year, i've changed my diet and gone off gluten, dairy and soy. 
wow, what a difference that made! it was amazing! 
and this last month, my doctor found some things that needed healing, and prescribed me a diet of just veggies, fruit and meat. {that's right...JUST veggies, fruits and meat!}

yikes! it's been hard, but i've already seen an improvement. 
i ran on Friday, like fully went on a run, without joint pain, for the first time in 3 1/2 years. 

but eating so strictly can certainly be tough, especially when invited places. 
last week, I was bringing dinner to a friend's house who had just had a baby. 
Because it was far away, I just stopped by Corner Bakery and bought them their favorite meal. 

when I got to their house, I realized I was starving. 
but I had no food, and there were no places around to buy the food I could eat. 
a tear rolled down my cheek as I sat in the car. 
Here I was bringing food to my friend Kierra.
I didn't want to ask her if she could feed me. 
how embarrassing! I was coming to feed HER! 
But I prayed "Lord, please provide something, anything, that I might be able to eat"

I knocked on the door to greet my sweet friends and their new baby. 
In less that five minutes, when I sheepishly admitted to them my new eating habits, they graciously whipped me up a bunch of cooked veggies and fruit. 

I sat in complete awe. 
God had heard my small prayer,
without much faith. 

and yet He cared. 
He heard me, and He provided. 

His tender heart, 
it blessed me. 

and then today,
my sweet husband took me on a date to a raw, vegan, restaurant called 118 Degrees. 
it was delicious, and I walked away overcome with blessing. 
i thank God for that man who has blessed me in this health journey. 

the Lord longs to provide.  

May we look to the small ways that the Lord blesses us. 
For it is food for our soul, those remembrances. 

If any of you have ever struggled with their health, I would love to hear from you, and pray for you! It can be a battle, but we are not alone:) 

much love and HAPPY MONDAY,
love Katie 

here's to love

Monday, October 15

This weekend took me by surprise in that our calendar rendered rather open. 

and with that, i spent a lot of time feeling ever so loved. 
truly reflecting on all the goodness that comes with being the apple of someone's eye. 

kev and i snuck away to one of our special "k" dates as we like to call them. 
with a basket of unknown surprises for the other, location disclosed till departure. 

and to that i say,
here's to a love that laughs at all, even himself. 
here's to a love that plays scattagories like it's going out of style, because he knows it's my favorite. 

here's to a love that washes dishes because he wants to serve me. 
here's to a love that allows me to crawl into his lap and cry, often. 
and here's to a love that doesn't judge or fix, but that encourages and inspires. 

what a love. 

and yet, as I took it all in, i realized
that i was in the arms of someone who loved me even deeper. 
that layed it all out for me on a wooden cross 
taking all that broken and ugly and sinful yuckiness. 

that sin that i hide from,
that covers me in shame. 

HE bore that. 

and I am justified AS IS. 

this weekend I had a bit of an epiphany-
I have been pronounced blameless. 

that nothing I do can make God love me more. 
I am most love-able now.
 and now. 
and now. 

the past that likes to haunt and cling,
and make me strive to DO GOOD and EARN
can be shut down now. 
bye bye. 

because LOVE deemed me perfect on that cross. 
and to that I say,
here's to a love that says your confidence isn't in your performance, but in the cross
here's to a love that wholly justifies us and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ
here's to a love that shouts "katie, you are completely free!" 
here's to a love that covers us in grace not condemnation
here's to a love that gave it all. 

a love that asks us to live and orient our lives around the cross. 
because that is freedom. 

here's to love friends. 

love Katie 

open house

Tuesday, October 9

it's funny how often time we compartmentalize our lives.
there is work time, play time, ministry time.
and it's really quite silly, to be honest. 
i look at jesus.
to him, it was all one. 
just time. 
to be. 
{JT sitting on Kev's lap for hours while we had company. so many hours in fact that he passed out and slept in kev's arms. too precious}

shouldn't ministry, or mission, be inched into the very fabric of every walking moving breathing moment we have? 

the one we pray we model,
seemed to always do his best work in the most human of circumstances. 
in his walking, in his drinking, in his eating. 

jesus needed water and sat at a well. 
hello woman at the well!
her life is transformed,
her town hears the gospel. 
and all because human jesus needed a drink. 
there he goes, using his humanly needs as a chance to love and share freedom. 

{one night after Bible study, a few students stayed around to talk. So we made waffles, cause that's the normal thing to do, right? }

the divine happens to 
occur along the way. 

{chef jojo helping me make peach cobbler. seriously, how can you resist that face?!?}

some really wonderful people wrote
"{these moments} will seem like interruptions, but if you begin to look for God's fingerprints in your day and in every relationship, in every coffee shop, in every conversation you have with your neighbor, there's a good chance you will begin to see God's incarnational presence" 

"to take on flesh"

and so we pray that we take on the flesh of Christ. 
the one who was never in a hurry,
never shooed anyone away.
but was an open house to 
the hurting, 
the broken,
the lost,
and the deprived. 

all along the way. 

a few weeks ago,
i ran home from the gym, and being that it's been hotter than the blazes this Fall,
i was a drippy mess. 

new neighbors moved in below us, and as I headed down the path towards our house, a man walked along side me that I didn't recognize. 
"hi" I beamed, "i'm katie, I live above you"
"francisco" came his reply with a smile. 
"do you have a new baby?" I asked with curiosity at the cute squeals and cries I had been hearing. 
"yes, do you want to meet her? come on in..."

now i had a to-do list longer than life, AND was making puddles from all my sweat. 
but this was a miracle- an invitation to do life with my neighbors. 

i walked in, and looked around. 
there she sat, proud mama and sweet baby. 
carmen and victoria. 

i washed my hands (and arms too!)
and held victoria for 45 minutes while I chatted with Carmen. 
despite our varied life stages, we were kindred spirits. 
i left feeling SO alive and inspired. 
this is why i moved into the neighborhood. 
to incarnate the love of Christ in relationship. 
movement towards Christ on a journey with others. 

i'm so glad my busyness didn't affect the spontaneous. 
christ owns time, and as his daughter, i have it. 
lots of it. 

so may we walk and talk and love as one. 
no compartments.
just one big open house. 

so may we surrender our time to Abba's
and may he stake a sign,
that boldly proclaims
on our home
and more importantly our hearts. 
and may the fine print read, 
come in
come in
for there is always room in the kingdom.

{story time with JT}
{precious time with our sweet god-daughter}

live as an open house today dear one. 
not a compartment. 

much love,

"the word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. we saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like father, like son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. "
- John 1:14, the Message