A Decade

It has been ten years since my feet first stepped onto this red dirt to call this place home. A decade. Something about that word makes it sound like a very long time. Sometimes, it feels like a very long time, but sometimes it feels like only a blink.

Ten years ago I moved across the ocean with something that I thought was hope but in reality was more like a naïve optimism, a young but confident faith in who I thought Jesus to be then, and a wild spirit for adventure. I would like to say that if I could go back and do it all over again, I would do some things differently, I would make less mistakes, I would live more graciously, but in saying that I might discredit the grace of God who worked so tremendously in my naivety that only He could get any credit. And so today I sit and remember and giggle at a bold and inexperienced 18-year-old who thought she might change the world.

I didn’t know it then, the truth that sinks deep into my bones now: It’s not our productiveness “for” God that counts, it is our worship, our time at His feet. It isn’t our public life, the accolades and the “well-done”s and the applause of the world that matters, it is our silent, continuous reach for Him in the places where no one is watching. It isn’t our “world changing” that makes any difference, it is the way we let Him change and shape our hearts to more reflect His.

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Mary of Bethany. By the world’s standards, she didn’t do much of anything extraordinary. She sat at Jesus’s feet while her sister ran around serving; she poured her life savings in perfume over Him while others looked on and called it a waste. But I think Mary knew this secret, the one the world doesn’t teach us, the one I didn’t know at eighteen, when my productive and radical life was going to make a difference – the only thing that matters is Him. Not what we do for Him, but that we know Him.

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Ten years in Uganda, pretty much my entire adult life. I drive much better on the left side of the road than I do the right and I can’t parallel park in anything other than a 14-passenger van. I take my shoes off before entering a home regardless of whether the host cares, and I find the floor a more comfortable seat than furniture. This place has brought me my husband and my babies, my dearest friends, my best days and my worst days. This place has held my greatest trials and my biggest celebrations. This place has become home. But something so much more extraordinary has happened – I have found my home in Him. This decade has brought me, like Mary, to sit at His feet.

In ten years of living and loving, of huge loss and great blessing, deep sorrow and immense joy, I have known Jesus more intimately than I originally thought possible. He met me here. He met me in the unexpected places of my story and He met me when the trials were too great and the night was too long. He invited me to sit at His feet, to know the better thing, relationship with Him. When my story was not what I expected He picked up each piece and held it tenderly and wrote His name on the pieces and on my heart. Jesus took my naïve optimism and forged a deep hope that grew in long hours and months and years of clinging only to Him. Jesus took my wild-eyed desire for adventure and showed me that the greatest adventure would be in allowing Him to peel back the layers of my heart, in searching the lines on His face, in truly knowing Him and being known by Him. He showed me that He wasn’t Jesus who desired my productivity, He was Jesus who desired me. All of me, poured out before Him.

I don’t know what season of life you are in today, if you are like me, watching your babies grow in front of your eyes, marveling at all God has done that is so beyond what you could have dreamed up or imagined, or if you are like me ten years ago with absolutely no idea what God is going to do, baffled as He strips away all the “good” plans you have a replaces them with His. But I know this – He wants you. He wants your worship. He sees you reaching for Him when no one else is looking, when no one sees or recognizes your tireless serving, when there are no applause. You are beautiful to Him, here. His eyes are on you and He is pleased with who He made in you.

Let’s find ourselves at His feet today. We may pour out tears or we may pour out praise or maybe a bit of both, and Jesus who cups our faces in His hands wants every bit. His arms stretched out to you are safe, His gaze toward you is loving and His deep desire is that you would know Him and be known by Him.

 

For more:

Luke 10:38-42, John 12:1-8

Because God’s gifts are timely as always, my precious friend Sara just wrote the most beautiful book that intertwines her relationship with God and the story of Mary of Bethany in the Gospel of John. I’ve read it twice already because it is that sweet, and because Sara writes as one who has truly known Jesus up close and personal. I would highly recommend Unseen.

17 thoughts on “A Decade

  1. I wanted to let you know that I preordered your new book and Unseen your friends. If her book is as amazing as your first book I can’t wait. Glad to hear your encouraging words. I love the Lord and plan to make heaven my home someday.

  2. Ten years! Isn’t it amazing how fast time spins away behind us? I’ve been reading you for I don’t even know how much of that time! When did you begin writing online? (I can’t remember). I love your first book, and am so looking forward to reading your new one!

  3. I am so thankful for your blogs. They teach me more about Jesus. Many times they put
    Things I have thought into words .This year has been such a hard struggle with my family and
    Dealing with unforgivenes . God has been refining me and teaching me His ways. It may not be the ending I hope for,but as long as He
    Writes it, I am satisfied. Your words always
    Encourage me . Thankyou!

  4. I just read your second book over the Christmas Break. I grew up in the mission field so I felt like I could relate to you. Reading your book rekindled my love for the mission field. Many times while reading your book I would weep and remember much of my life growing and ministering in JA as a young missionary. Thank you for enouraging and strengthening me in the missionfield that He has me now in as a teacher and a mother. May God continue to bless you with all spiritaul blessings.

  5. Dear Katie!
    I just wanted to write you that this blog post is probably what made me think the most the last half-year. How much do I “for” god instead of having releationship *with* him!

    Thank you SOO much, this post has been such a blessing for you!!!
    Thomas

  6. As I write I have just finished reading Kisses From Katie and my great niece, where I found this book, is on mission in Jinja. God has used you so to touch my heart with your life and the story of all your children and I thank you for your faithfulness. I am 72, a Christian, active in my local church and you have inspired me to do more for my Lord and Saviour. Please pray for me, my name is also Sara as I see where God would have me more involved. My great niece is about to enter college and plans to teach at your school in two years. She loves the Lord and is going to be a missionary. I am so excited to see what He is going to do in her life. Her name is Emily. please pray for her. She did get to meet your husband this week while she was there. Her mission group is moving on today to another location but I have really enjoyed her pictures and your blessings. I will be sending donations for your wonderful work I want to be a part of. May God continue to bless you.

  7. I get that eternal feel after reading your blogs. You put thoughts into words so beautifully. I feel so satisfied after reading what you write. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to more such posts from you.

  8. Having no children of our own we adopted and afterward we fostered.
    Looking back those many years ago I was not always aware that it was the Lord
    Who made us do it. We just wanted to have children so this was the next best thing.
    My wife just found your book and I have been moved to tears reading how the Lord
    has made you with such a caring heart and your trust in Him. Scary and exhilarating!
    I do not know what else to say.
    Yours in His service,
    Henry

  9. Wow, I recently read your book on Kisses From Katie. I could not believe your compassion, and faith that you never gave up on. I loved that book, it inspired me. It is not easy to inspire teenagers, especially with books on missionaries. My church(crossroadson23.com) Sponsors kids in Haiti. I sponsor a girl at the age of 12 named Lovelie. I only do little things with my family. You travel places and actually change the world! I am amazed! You have helped so many kids, I simply babysit. You are incredible! I loved Kisses from Katie, thanks for the inspiration you give to so many people. Ella

  10. I am SO incredibly encouraged by your courage. Bless you! I will be in Uganda (Kampala area) on 1/29/20-2/11/20 & can’t seem to find whether you’re still in the area. I would be honored to meet you and witness your ministry first-hand.

  11. I am a ten year old girl living in Malone, NY. I have read both Kisses From Katie and Daring To Hope. I think what God is doing in your life is truly amazing. When I grow up I want to be like you. Your books have inspired me to dream, read my Bible, and pray for God’s guidance in my life. When I read your books I am able to tune out the outside world and be with you, your friends and family,and God. Thank you!

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