Nearly four years ago she bounced into my life in a dress with a bright red sash. She tentatively called me Mommy after having not known one for nearly her entire five years of life and all signs of trauma were quickly masked with little girls songs and dances and giggles as she adjusted to life in a family.
Years later I watched her feet run in bright red sneakers toward the towering swing set where she would pretend to fly. We had struggled for joy and were finding it; she had thrashed against love and by God’s grace I was learning to hold on tight.
She kicked and screamed and did the unspeakable and when logic said that I should be angry or might love her less, I couldn’t and my desire for her was only stronger. And as I saw the extent of her brokenness and mine, I loved her even more.
Red beads clicked around her face as she skipped into the kitchen to find her head a resting place now nearly at my shoulder, and she whispered of the wounds once covered but never healed and an unfamiliar panic crawled up in the back of my throat and settled in as it hit me, the full weight of how much we had yet to overcome.
I took her face in my hands and through blurred eyes assured her, assured myself, that Jesus thought of her and her red beads and her red sash as His red blood spilled out, and because I knew that, I knew this – He would not leave us here.
He didn’t and I saw progress, but the fears stayed. Nights of standing by her bed, days of checking and double checking and checking again. Blame and accusations from the enemy that I could have done something differently, done something better. Anger and hatred toward the sin that could allow someone to do such horrible things to an innocent, helpless child. I knew Beauty. I fought to see Him here.
Months later on a Tuesday in the still-dark house, I drank too-strong coffee and I drank of His grace. I prayed over my daughter, a splash of red in the tapestry of our family – feisty, powerful and full of care and compassion. I wrestled with the questions of “what if” and “if only” and I told them of His sovereignty, again.
And right there on the worn pages I read Zechariah call God’s people prisoners of hope.
And I knew that I hadn’t been. Once more I had become more of a prisoner of overwhelming concern about the trauma of my children’s pasts and shifted my gaze away from what, Who I was really captive to.
“but in Him, it has always been ‘Yes!’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all ‘Yes’ in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1: 19-20)
My flesh wants to shake the head no but I am a prisoner to God who says “Yes!” All of His promises – peace, joy, love, forgiveness, salvation! – they are Yes to me and Yes to her in Christ! Eternity is Yes in Christ. And because of His Yes I can say Yes to all that He gives. Even all that He allows.
Hope is my captor – Hope for her healing here which has already begun and hope for our life eternal with Him. Hope that He who began a good work in us is not finished yet and will carry it to completion until the day that He comes and hope that He is coming.
The sun peaks over the horizon and dances patterns across the couch. I see with new eyes, a captive of the hope set fully on the grace given me through Christ. I must live my days as this kind of prisoner, because true freedom is only found in being completely captivated by a coming King.
She who is always the first one awake pulls a book off the shelf and snuggles up next to me in silence, her nine-year-old lankiness curling up like an infant inside waiting arms. I see hope in her – and I see myself. I kick and I scream and I thrash hard against the Father’s love. I shift my focus and become a prisoner to the panic instead of the promise, and still He says, “mine.” He looks at me, broken, and calls me daughter and ever so lovingly pulls me right back in.
I study her face and can’t imagine that I know only a fraction of His love for her as I whisper the prayers of every morning over her heart, “Jesus you bind up the broken-hearted…set the captives free…comfort those who mourn…bestow beauty instead of ashes… They will be called oaks of righteousness, a display of the Lord’s splendor.” I trace the curve of her face with my fingers and praise Him for such resilience and transformation as I have seen in this child. I praise Him for her salvation and the way she is hungrily learning more about Him each day.
And then I write it small, on her hand and mine, “prisoner of hope.
I want to live as a prisoner to the “Yes.” Remembering all we have seen, we set our hope fully on what we have not yet seen. We place all of our hope and all of our trust and all of our focus on the grace given us through Christ, and we beg to live captured by His promises.

165 thoughts on “

  1. t
    THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING AND SPEAKING TRUE TRUTH THAT SPEAKS TO THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE ISSUES WE ALL FACE. We all have not been loved fully by those we trust and what a joy to know that there is One who is to be trusted. This is the central issue facing us all. Who to trust. You bring us back to the One who loves us so much again and again no matter what. Continue to assure your children of God's continued love and as they believe and understand it, they will heal. I pray for your steadfast and unmoveable faith in Jesus and all that he has done for you and those you minister to daily. Hold fast. Keep the faith.

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  2. Thank you for everything you do in my beautiful Africa. I hope to meet you one day. Your book is beautiful and inspiring and we pray for you and the beautiful children you love.
    Bernadine

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  3. Katie, you far outdo me in your obedience to Christ. I have no right to call your attention to anything, but still, I'm wondering….

    Jesus has very lovingly and gently convicted me about my clothes. He's told me, “Too short, too low, and too tight.” And I'm 53 and should have known better, right?

    Katie, have you prayed about your clothing styles? Would you put it before Jesus? Sometimes our dress blocks our message to a much more conservative world. U.S. Christians have no problem with how Christians dress, but others throughout the world do. And your ministry is watched throughout the world.

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  4. Just started your book yesterday, I cried on the first few pages only because I realized how much I have, and how little they have. It really brings joy to my heart to know how much you have changed their life.

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  5. You have chosen to what is better. I am so grateful for a husband and children in the states, but long for the richness of relationship that you have with our Savior, partly due to the desperation of circumstance and also because you long to be filled by Him, loathing the emptiness that comes from a life seeking comfort. I too fear complacency, ignorance, and too much comfort. You have what is better. But i did not need to tell you that. 🙂

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  6. Hi Katie,
    This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Besides being grateful for God and His presence in my life I am grateful for people like you who answer the call to reach out to the “least of these”. I am reading your book and am drawn into the life you have and the people of Uganda. But, for more reasons than just your book. After spending two weeks in Rwanda on a mission trip my daughter is currently entering her 5th month with Baby Watoto. She has bee up in Gulu for the last three months and is due to come home at the end of the month. Reading your story and my daughters blog is like a mirror and confirmation of what God does in our heart when we live with the “least of these”. I hope you will be able to read this and I pray that you continue to be blessed by God's provision and grace. Susan

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  7. Katie, I just finished your book. I loved it! I am also from Tennessee. I went on a missiin trip in 2011 to Belize and enjoyed that so much. God works in mysterious ways. Before I committed to go I felt God telling me children go where I send thee and knew I had to go at that time. He knew i wouldn't be able to go in 2012 because of my mom & sister being very sick. I am having to help homeschool my two nieces while their mother is in the hospital fighting for her life. I admire everything you are doing. God bless you!!

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  8. Katie I recently read your book and it was so good fro my soul.I dined on meat and rich foods learning through your eyes and heart. I have been sharing your book with as many people as I can as God tells me to do so…I was wondering if you are speaking of Jane in the last blog? What ever happened to her? Thanks for your open and will
    ling heart to allow us to learn through your journey with Christ. It is an honor.

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  9. Just finished reading your book (after having read your entire blog from beginning to end)… so blessed! On more than one occasion have your posts brought tears to my eyes and a sharp pang to my heart as He breaks it for His children all over again. You have forever impacted my life, not because of your greatness, but because of your brokenness in serving Him. Because you serve Him in your insufficiency I know that I also can be used by Him.

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  10. Hi Katie! My friend and I love your book! We were wondering if you are in Jinja right now, because we are currently here in Jinja doing mission work, and we'd love to meet you! Please comment back! God bless 🙂

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  11. Thank you for your testimony. I want to serve overseas more than anything–so badly–and am following Him now in obedience to rid myself of debt. Today, though, even reading your book, I felt so discouraged–like I will never get to my own beloved country (China). Do you think He can use people who have come from less successful backgrounds than yours to do His will? I so hope so … I want Him to use me … but I am afraid that it may never happen.

    I am going now to ask Him to make me a prisoner of hope, and to also be content where He has placed me for now, though my desire for another place may haunt me daily.

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  12. Katie,
    As our family of eight children begin to mourn the recent loss of their young father, my amazing husband, your word are like a soothing balm.
    For that hope and love because of our faith in Christ will carry us forward. May you find peace as you continue to bless those dear ones.

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  13. There is so much of profound importance in this post. The issue of “letting” God love you. The “problem of pain”–trying to accept what He “allows” or seemingly allows. And the insidious tendency to let one's gaze shift from where it should be, which is on Him; this can happen to one without their even realizing it, then they're lost in the worry, and it's too late–unless something happens to come along to make them realize they're living in the worry full-time. Two quotations help me with this dilemma. First, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” ~Oswald Chambers…Secondly, “Put your expectations on God, not on people.” And last but not least, I love how you express that you are moved to love your daughter MORE, when technically you could love her less, due to the struggle and difficulty that is present. This is truly a moving portrait of Unconditional Love. I'm reminded of a poem by David Ignatow. It would seem he might have written the poem about marriage, but I think it can apply to any relationship. I'll put back-slashes between the lines since I can't indent in this comment field ☺…….Standing beside you/I took an oath/to make your life simpler/by complicating mine/and what I always thought/would happen did:/I was lifted up in joy. (*Not that what you do is merely making people's lives “simpler.” Obviously, it's much more than that.) Bless you Katie!

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