“I am so old. My whole body hurts. I have suffered much,” her eyes shine with joy as she speaks, “oh, I am suffering. But whatever He wants. Whatever God wants!” And she laughs and she laughs.

We sit in our circle in the dust of a slum and we share our hearts and our prayers. Jja Ja Maria, who looks to be a hundred years old and reaches no higher than my shoulders, is the last to share.

Her life, it has been hard. She is in Jinja because she had to flee from the war in the North that tore apart her life and her family. Her son was shot last week by a soldier on the border of Uganda and Sudan and frail, little Jja Ja had made the 13 hour bus ride in the stifling heat and watched as they had lowered her last living child into the ground. The journey had taken almost a week and when she came back she found her grandchildren sick and even though her whole body ached from travel she still took them to the clinic and continued bending over her work so that she could make enough money to put food on the table. Now she is back and we are happy to embrace her and ask about her journey and ask how we can pray for her.

“What ever He wants,” she chuckles.

I look at the joy that is spilling out of her wrinkled face and I repeat the words that she has spoken in my head and that doesn’t make sense. She is hurt and she is suffering and she is laughing about it and sparkling with beauty and radiating Joy.

That doesn’t make sense. Not to me. Not yet.

But she already knows what I am just learning. That even this, it is from Him. Even this, it is Holy ground. This thing that I label suffering, it is really Joy.

“Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” Amos 3:6

I live with these human eyes, and with these human eyes of mine I label. I label one thing as good and one thing as bad. I label moments as blessing or burden. And I forget that all this labeling, it is not my right, not my place, not mine to do. To declare what is a gift in my life and what is a curse is to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, to sit in the garden full of abundance and beauty and choose the forbidden. The knowledge of good and evil, that was never intended for me. Could I, like Jja Ja Maria just quit my labeling and say, “Whatever God wants. Whatever HE wants!”

Because God IS. “I AM.” He tells Moses and still today He IS. And if every good and perfect gift is from above, and a Good and Beautiful God can create only good and beauty then these moments that I choose to label as loss and suffering, they are really good and beautiful, perfect gifts?

“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and I who give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal.” Deuteronomy 32:29

Suffering, pain, loss, shame – all these things I have blamed on a broken world, Satan even. But can’t a broken world and even Satan only give what God allows? Suffering, pain loss and shame are only these things because I label them as such. Because I, a sinner, choose to eat from the tree, choose to turn away from nail-scarred hands and ignore the grace and miss the gift. He is beautiful and everything He creates is beautiful and if I choose to label it suffering I am choosing to miss the beauty that is freely offered me.

On Friday I got a call from Jane’s birth mom that she had gotten her leg stuck in the chain of a bicycle. Five hours later I walked into a hospital room where she lay sedated, her heel bleeding and her tendon exposed, but untouched. The nurse saw my appalled, grief twisted face and shook her head. “God is good,” she whispered. “God’s grace…She could have lost that foot.”

“God’s grace,” I thought, and I wondered what if she had? What if the tendon had been ripped clean through and she never were to walk again? What of when she was ripped from my life and left with a woman who doesn’t even care to supervise her and so she lays here hurt and bleeding and so far, far away from me?

What if God’s grace is not when He saves us, but that He saved us.

“Surely, just as I have intended, so it has happened and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24

Just as He intended. Even this, planned by God.

And if this is what He intended (and it is), then that means that every moment – the moment when my daughter’s tiny fingers were pried from around my neck, the moment in that hospital room, the moments when I hold babies and watch as they breathe their last and their mothers crumple to the floor and the moment when a dear grandmother hears that her son has been shot, and the moments when the laundry piles over my head and the children bicker and hurts from their past make them do the unspeakable and I don’t even know how to parent – every moment is His grace, a gift. Could I look and say, “whatever He wants, this is my gift for today.”

God, who is Good and who is Beauty, and who saved us, even me undeserving, He can only give grace.

And I have a choice. I can let those wounded hands pull me close and I can choose to see the grace in this moment or I can again label, choosing to ignore the gift.

I see it deep in Jja Ja’s eyes, she knows. Even this suffering, He did this. He did this, not because He doesn’t know the ache – He does. He did this, a gift to me.

For the good of me. For the good of her. For the good of us, those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. For the good of all this world and the glory that is His.

And I know in that moment, I can choose to label the ripped open heel and the ripped open family or I can choose to count it as a gift, God’s grace. And the beauty is not in the circumstance or the label but the fact that in His graciousness He is here with me anyway, regardless of the circumstance or the way I choose to view it. The grace of being near to Him in trial, as long as I can chose to see it, is certainly the greatest grace of all.

This is what Jja Ja knows and this is what I am learning. God’s grace is not blessing, earthly reassure, our security or even the security of our children. God’s grace is not that all is “well” and right in my eyes. God’s grace is not when He saves us but that He saved us.

Here I am face to face with Jesus in the dirt and all I have to do is choose to see, accept the grace offered freely. His compassion and His mercy, this Grace, it never fails. Each moment each breath, is a gift simply and only because I get to spend it with Him.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Whatever He wants. And I am thankful.

** Ps. I am reading this FABULOUS book that is healing my heart and helping me to see more clearly. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. If you don’t have a copy, you should get one, TODAY and prepare for your view of life to be forever altered – for the better.

79 thoughts on “

  1. Katie, I have to say that since finding your blog and reading, I am changed. I am not necessarily a religious person, but that doesn´t matter – your strength, your vision, your work..it is an example to all of us of how life under any religion should be lived.

    I sent in my $300 to sponsor a child last week. It is the LEAST I can do, seeing all you are doing.

    Please update us on Jane.

    Hugs and blessing….


  2. God gave this to me from you today on March 7th, my baby Isaac's birthday. He was born without kidneys and lived an hour. This is such a good reminder. There was pain. I am human. But the blessings, the grace, the love of my Savior that I would have missed if I had not given my baby back to the Lord. He gives and takes away, and I will CHOOSE to say Blessed be the name of the Lord! Thank you, Katie!



  3. Joseph is another great example of this principle in action, “You meant it for evil, but GOD meant it for good.”

    Katie, might I add one little qualifier though? “God's grace is not [ONLY] blessing [for THAT IS His Grace too!],[NOT ONLY OUR] earthly treasure, [NOT ONLY] our security or even the security of our children. God's grace is not that all is “well” and right in my eyes. God's grace is not [ONLY–for surely that TOO IS God's marvelous and awesome grace!] WHEN he saved us, but THAT He saved us.” It is ALL, ALL His wonderous and matchless grace. You are so right about God's grace NOT being what is “well and right in MY eyes”!!! or how I so mistakenly define it. Thank you for this, sharing what GOD is teaching you. Judi


  4. This is my first time reading your blog, and it is so obvious that you sit at the feet of Jesus, so obvious that you practice being still and Knowing that He is God. I praise God for your faith and your ministry. Keep gazing at His face. I'll be praying for you and this ministry


  5. You couldn't know how much I needed to hear that today….I need that eye-gate to look at things through. Thank you….bless you, I love you, you are my sister, not just a sister-in-Christ. I will get that book you suggested and be forever changed as I am when I read the scriptures. It is alive and active. It is active in you.


  6. I am not one to leave comments on blogs but I am just blown away. I am a young missionary in South Africa and have found your blog so comforting and encouraging over the past year that I've been reading it. You're perspective on things and the way you struggle through what the Lord is teaching you is beautiful. It is a battle to learn these things on more than just a head level but to really let them sink into our hearts and change the way we do life. I've shared this specific post with many people already and am still reading it over and over myself. There is so much truth in here that I was left speechless for the first few days. Thank you for sharing your heart and what God is teaching you. He has used you to speak the words I needed to hear in these moments. He is overwhelming me with His presence and truth as I struggle through living this out. Thank you for being a part of this journey I'm on through your blog. Keep up all the hard work that you are doing. It is making a difference for your children and for many around the world.


  7. Hey Katie, I don't know if you will get around to reading this, but I have no idea who you our but somehow came across your blog link on a tumblr page and it caught my eye, as i have been to Uganda and wow to see this blog is incredible! God bless you and your family, looks like He already has 🙂


  8. wow…i desperately needed these words today. i am so guilty of labeling, but i've never connected that to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. such an amazing insight! i, too, am reading ann's book…but hadn't started my gratitude list until just now…your post just became gift #1 on my list. thank you!!


  9. Katie,
    You have blessed me with this post. I read A Holy Experience blog by Ann and I am reading her book. I am 56 and I am trying to wrap my brain around this whole new way of thinking. Reading this post shed a little more light on it for me. I pray Jane heals quickly. I thank God for young women like you and Ann – teaching an older woman like me so much. God bless you and your daughters.


  10. Katie, I too have read Ann's Book. She is doing a tour with my dear friends Nicole Witt and Christa Wells. You are an inspiration and encourager of the truth of God the almighty. I am one of your prayer warriors.

    Kim Tetzlaff


  11. Katie,

    I always am inspired to read your Blogg. Thank you for sharing. I too have read Ann's book One Thousand Gifts. You are a blessing. Would I do What ever??? Lord??

    Kim Tetzlaff


  12. I really needed this today. I've been sick this week and have struggled with more sickness than I usually have in a whole year in the last 3 months. I've found myself really feeling sorry for myself and even struggling with depression as a result. This post was very convicting. I'm sharing it on my blog and will be thinking on it and praying about it today.

    Thank you and praying for you,
    Elysa Mac


  13. I really needed this today as I've been sick a good bit lately and really struggling emotionally. I'm thinking on this , praying about it, and sharing it on my blog.

    Praying for you,
    Elysa Mac in Mississippi


  14. I'm looking forward to reading this book – it is sitting in my home. I was thinking about this book as I read your post then saw your note at the end. My family is no stranger to this grief and joy -I pray His presence will be real in your life.


  15. Oh thank you, THANK YOU, for writing this. God surely has used you to minister to me. May God richly bless you (I believe He already is…) 🙂


  16. Agree and Amen! LORD, help us – because we see with faulty, sinful, human, selfish, spoiled, evil, rotten eyes. We long for your sight, LORD. We trust You, help us to trust You even more. We love you, help us to love you even more. Give us faith that looks beyond the moment and towards Your good and perfect plan.


  17. Hi Katie,
    I just discovered your Blog. I heard about it this morning from CHRI radio.
    I am captivated by the stories you share and your obedience to our faithful God.
    You are learning something marvelous!
    I am just at the beginning. The questions and the fears you share are very similar to mine!
    The more I read your blog, the more answers you are providing for my heart through your experiences.
    I feel God calling me for something bigger in my Life.
    I must admit, I have a lot of fears and so many questions!!
    A life of service with orphan children. Where, when ?
    I don't know. Thank you for your obedience and for sharing your life and faith with us. Thank you for reminding me that HE IS faithful even when we (us humans) don't see it or understand it!
    May God's perfect Love surround your heart like a warm comfy cozy blanket everyday and may His perfect Love flow from your heart to others arround you.
    Praying for you and your loved ones.
    In Him,


  18. I've read your book, and these words touched my heart and changed my view on suffering forever. Praying that God will continue to fill you with His beauty and His grace every day! How amazing that His mercies are new every single morning. You're an inspiration, Katie… thank you for being a willing vessel for Christ to fill and share His love through!


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