Friday, December 28, 2012

You Will Never Be Satisfied


Christmas has come and gone. Like every year it flies by in a flash. I loved going home to my NC mountains with Josh to visit my family. Pulling up into the driveway of my childhood home felt wonderful and yet so strange.

It was a fabulous few days. I spent most of it holding my sweet, 7 year old sister, Clara, in my arms. I have missed her so much. Josh and I woke up Christmas morning, looked over at each other and said, "Merry Christmas, baby!" It was our first Christmas together. Being surrounded by my family and everyone I love was beyond wonderful. I had all I wanted and suddenly it was time to leave.

 

How was your Christmas? Many of us received gifts... probably more than most of the world did. Most of us were surrounded by family. We saw people that we love and hadn't seen in a long time. The excitement, noise, music, wrapping paper, smiles... and then the back of your loved ones cars as they drove away or that dear house as it faded in the distance. I had never really known that feeling until now. 

We think that if we get this or have family nearby we will be satisfied fully. Once Christmas gets here I will have all I want, we may think. Then the gifts get old. The pumpkin pie gets thrown away and everything feels so familiarly normal... maybe dull. 

You will never be satisfied if you try to let the world and it's pleasures fill your heart. Even as Christians we believe the garbage around us. We smiled as we said that Jesus is the reason for the season, but we sometimes lived completely different words. Jesus is the reason for every season. He is the reason for true joy. Don't live chasing dreams that the world says are good because they will let you down. 

Just like those momentary thrills of life won't satisfy you forever, also your mundane days of life in January don't have to depress you. A follower of Jesus has no reason to be overcome with depression. There is always hope. God promises that. 

Live in joy. Be content and satisfied. That is how a missionary being tortured in a foreign country can still smile and sing praises to God. 

We have all we need as long as we have Jesus and He will never leave us. 

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Makes all of those empty boxes that used to hold those gifts seem to hold a new meaning, doesn't it?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Life as the Wife

Josh and I have been married for 30 days. It has been a packed month of amazing life changes. We moved into our new home at Cherry Point, NC, over two weeks ago. Our house really began to look like a home when we moved in a bed, love seat, and couch. A few days later Josh and I took off down the road to Morehead City to find a tree lot off the side of the road. We found a healthy round tree at a dimly lit tree lot run by a man from Ashe County. He tied the tree on our car in a ridiculous fashion with thin twine. A few days later my grandparents and family visited to bring more of our things. They helped us fill our house. I enjoyed taking those couple of days to squeeze and hug my siblings. 

I settled into a routine at home and Josh at work. My heart never fails to skip a beat when I hear the door open at lunch time. He comes in in his uniform and gives me a kiss. 

We keep trying churches out to see where God wants us. Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church will always be home to us, though. There is no place in the world like it. I don't lightly say that... we mean it. It is an amazing place. We still look ahead to where God wants us here so we can get involved. 

Over the last month I have been amazed at how many things Mama must have taught me in my life. Over and over again I've been surprised that I knew how to do something because "Mama showed me how to do it." Each day that goes by, I am more appreciative for the way she didn't just do everything for me. She taught me... maybe without even knowing it, she taught me so many things. Daddy taught me so many things too. They really prepared me well. I mess up constantly and I am far from doing anything as well as they do, but I am not falling apart, and I thank them for that. 

Parents, prepare your children. The worst thing you can do for them is doing everything for them, especially as times get tougher. At the time I would have loved if my parents would have made everything easy for me, but now I'm so thankful that they protected my heart and yet let me decide what to do. 

My parents taught me and at the same time, they held my heart. They made it easy to trust them, because I knew that they wanted what was best for me. I'm so thankful for that. 

I am so thankful for my wonderful home and amazing husband. I had no idea that married life could be so incredible! I look forward to seeing what God will do in our lives. 

I do miss those beautiful mountains and I look forward to seeing them at Christmas! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Purpose

Do you ever just sit back sometimes and ask yourself what you are doing? Do you ask yourself if what you are doing has purpose... any purpose? If you do, I don't think it's a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have purpose, hopefully a good purpose. 

Over the past two weeks I have been involved in all sorts of legal stuff to change my name, and dealing with all sorts of people about our house, and buying furniture, etc, etc, etc. Josh and I have worked with a vast assortment of people. I haven't had many opportunities to deal with people at the magnitude I have been lately. 

I hope it doesn't sound mean when I say that I am amazed at the amount of people that seem so purposeless. Not just unhappy, but rolling in their rut. They half-heartedly do their jobs because they don't like it or they are just miserable in general about things, I guess. 

People are wandering in an oblivious fog. At first I just thought they didn't care about their jobs, but then as I started to watch people closer, I realized that it runs much deeper. People don't care much about anything. 

Then I noticed guys pass by the Call of Duty advertisement in Wal-Mart and water at the mouth and girls learn that Taylor Swift came out with a new album and rejoice. The craziest things excite us. I sit back sometimes and try to keep my head from spinning. Do we really live with such little purpose that the lives and creations of other people are almost the only things that excite us anymore?


The craziest part? Christians are really no better. It makes sense why lost people would seem to have little or no purpose, but us? We have no excuse. No matter what you do, you can do it for the Lord. It doesn't take much these days to rise above the average. I don't want to be average. 

At one point in our nation's history it wasn't so uncommon for a 14 year old boy to have done something as impressive as survey half of the state of Virginia. Who would that have been? George Washington. 

We need to decide what we stand for... and stand for it. Josh and I were flipping through radio stations on the way back from our honeymoon. I heard only the chorus to a song I imagine many teenagers in America know. It is called "Some Nights" by Fun. I had never heard it. All I heard were these lyrics before we flipped the station. 

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know anymore...


In my opinion, it describes America. We really don't know what we stand for... other than energy drinks, video games, fads, equality... oh, and comfort. Comfort trumps it all. Hard work is now pushed down. We are told if you have to work hard, then there is an issue. Just stick your hand out. Be happy... comfortable. 

Meanwhile, we slip away. Not just as a nation do we go down the drain, but as churches... dead churches, and as families and individuals. It's starts with the small things... and suddenly we are out at the knees. 

I don't want to do what I do because that is just where life has me. I am where I am because I am meant to be here. Be where God wants you to be. Don't live wondering if you are wasting your life. Live with purpose. It doesn't mean you save the world, it just means that you are where you are meant to be and are joyfully there. Even if we can't be where we want to be, we can still have purpose. You can still enjoy hobbies and fun things in life and know that they don't own you; you don't live for them. 

Don't wake up one day and realize that all you have to show for yourself is a worn video game remote and a faded credit card. Let's wake up and read that worn and faded Bible and drink from the fountain of Truth, because that is where we will find true purpose. 

I love you, my wonderful readers! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

A White Dress, Red Roses and Two Rings


I woke up Saturday the 10th of November and my first thought was, I'm not getting married today am I? And that was when I realized that my cell phone was ringing. It was Josh. He called like he did every morning. 

I got out of the bed like I would any other morning. The sun sent pink streaks across the sky, promising a beautiful day. I packed my bags full of everything any girl would need for her wedding and honeymoon. I carried my bags outside. The van was gone since Mom and Kandace had left earlier. Daddy was wearing his baggy sweatshirt, scraping the frost from my car windows. I hugged him before I got in the car and drove down the driveway alone. Tears of joy and a strange sense of sadness spilled onto my cheeks.

The rest of the morning was a blur of excitement. Makeup and hairspray and dresses. The light whiteness of my dress fell over my shoulders and I was hurried outside for pictures. Everyone looked gorgeous and I smiled happily until someone said, "Only one more hour till the wedding starts!" My stomach flipped in nervousness. My grandparents came upstairs to see me before they were seated. Someone said that the line of people to enter the church was outside the church. I asked if everything was ready downstairs. My cousins laughed and said, "Of course!" Lip gloss was smeared across my lips one last time. Mama kissed my cheek as she left to go be seated. Suddenly it was time for the bridesmaids and me to go around the church to the back door. We actually ran. We went in the back side room where they were to enter. I waited there with them and I realized that people could see me from about any angle I stood in that room. I gave up trying to stand in the corner and squatted down under a reception table. Yes, in my wedding dress I hid under a table. Daddy came in and told me it was time to go to the back of the church where we would enter. 



There I stood where so many girls dream to be. I heard the music through the door. The doors opened. I gripped Daddy's arm with one hand and my roses with other. Over 400 people stood. I felt my body tingle. Daddy told me that he loves me and then we got to the corner where I could see Josh. The moment I had been waiting for. His blue eyes caught mine and I smiled. I stepped on the roses my sister had spread as I walked toward the love of my life. 

The ceremony flew by. We said our vows, smiled, cried. Before I knew it, Daddy said, "You may kiss the bride." For the first time in my life I leaned in and gave my first kiss away. We bounded down the aisle as the music escalated. I looked into my my husband's face and proclaimed, "We're married, baby!'

The reception was full of balloons, food, voices, candy filled children and hugs. Lots of hugs. I think that Josh ate three grapes and I ate a corner of a sandwich and the rest of the time we hugged people! But it was still so good. I tossed my flowers and Josh flung the garter. We danced, cut the cake and Daddy suddenly claimed that it was time for us to leave. 

Already??? Time to leave??


It was pure bliss to walk through the crowd of friends as they swayed streamers and let balloons fly into the sky. After struggling to get in our car with all of the shaving cream under the car door handles, we left the cheering throng. 


It was a dream. We headed off to Pigeon Forge where we had a wonderful honeymoon in a beautiful mountain cabin. And then we headed to Cherry Point a few days later where Josh and I went to the Marine Ball, got me a military ID, and saw our new home for the first time. We headed back to my parents house for a week. We had a great time going to church, picking out a Christmas tree with them and playing Apples to Apples. 



Now, that's all over. I am currently sitting in our car. The back seat and trunk is jammed full of things for our house. It's just Josh and me now. 


Beyond all the details of our wedding, the joy of a wonderful honeymoon, the thrill of our new home, and the stress of all the change is the joy of something much greater. It's the joy of finally being the wife of Joshua Isaacs. I finally get to be who I am supposed to be. Each day that goes by I am more amazed that God let me marry a man as wonderful as him. 

Our prayer is that our love will be an example that others can follow. We just want to bring glory to God through our marriage and through our lives. No matter what comes or what time brings, we will be together no matter what. 

True love, God's way is worth waiting for. Love is not a fight, but it's something worth fighting for... forever and always. 

I love you Joshua Isaacs. I am so blessed to finally have your last name.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Wedding Eve

Tomorrow is the day. My wedding day! 

Today and yesterday has been glorious chaos around my house and the church. And I tell you, if I hang up one more bow... No, I'm kidding. It's been a surreal pleasure. Food, sparkles, lights, dresses, tuxes, nail polish, music.... it's a wedding world. 

Yesterday I was decorating at church and guess who walked in the door??? My almost-husband! I hadn't seen him on over 6 weeks. Lets just say I ran down the aisle from the back of the church into his arms. His wonderful arms. I wanted to kiss him. But I still can't do that... not yet. Tomorrow I will finally get to kiss the love of my life. Has it been easy waiting? No! In fact, it was harder than I thought. It was hard for both of us... especially Josh. But has it been worth the wait. We believe so with all of our hearts. Our first kiss will be as husband and wife as it should be. 

I feel like I have been in a whirlwind, but when I sit back like I am now and think about it all, I am amazed that tomorrow I get to marry Joshua Isaacs. It is an amazing feeling. No matter what happens tomorrow (like if I trip down the aisle....) or for the rest of our lives, I will be by him and he by me. What if he is deployed? I will still be by his side. My heart will be. 

But for now, the distance between us is over. It was hard. It hurt. But God turned me around today and showed me how far He has brought us. I thanked Him. As my family decorated the church, I walked off to the old Prayer Chapel. The sun shown bright color through the stained glass window. The floor creaked as I walked to the out of tune piano. I sat down and played. I played with all of my might. I sang and played. After a few songs tears were streaming down my cheeks. God stopped me as I heard His voice. 

Do you know how blessed you are?

It was then that I realized how easy it was for me to take it all for granted. I thanked Him. I thanked Him for the hard days, the good days, the glorious moments. I thanked Him for never forsaking me... not for a moment. I thanked Him that He will always be with me.

I am so overjoyed. Life doesn't promise to be perfect, but God gave me the greatest gift I ever received, besides salvation, his name is Joshua. That wonderful man is going to walk this journey of life with me and I with him. 

I love him. I'm ready for that walk down the aisle, for that first kiss and for every moment afterward. 

But now, duty calls and I must get busy! 

I love you all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bin


 
My one and only brother.
 
There is no one like Andrew. He is the only son in the Brown house. He holds the title proudly. My family started to adopt a little girl in 2007. We were "supposed" to be a family with four girls. That's what Daddy thought. She was going to be Carrianne. Yet, God had a different plan. There were no girls coming up. God told my family to open up the adoption to a girl... or a boy. Within a few days a picture of 3 year old Qing Bin Dang was sent to my family. He was a precious looking boy who had clubbed feet. That seemed simple enough. We knew he was the one. He would be Andrew David Brown. Before we left we learned that he had multiple other health issues, including a desperately needing repair hernia. So we prayed all would be okay.
 
My Mom and I headed off for China in September of 2008. We passed through Bejing as we had 2 years before. Instead of arriving in the beautiful and flowery province of HuBei, where Clara was from, we arrived in Henan. It is the oldest and I would argue, one of the poorest provinces in China. A few days later, my Mama and I hopped in a taxi and road through the filthy streets to a broken down building. Smoke billowed from the streets. Everything was gray. My stomach knotted at the repulsive odors.
 
 
Before I knew it, Mama and I were in a dingy room waiting on a worn couch with our guide. I clenched my hands... I looked toward the door over and over. That was when a thin lady came in with a little boy on her hip. That wasn't him...
 
That's him.
 
I looked at Mama's face as she said it again. That's him. I looked again at the child's face. It was. It was him. To my surprise, the woman dropped him to the ground and to my horror, he walked on his twisted feet. I had never seen anything like it. His clothes were literally rotten. His head was covered in sores and his skin was covered in a thick layer of dirt. Yet, he laughed and smiled.
 
 
His nanny sobbed as we took him with us. She warned us that his hernia may explode if he cries. I waited for him to cry as we got in the taxi. He never cried. The whole time. He fell asleep on the bed in the hotel and slept for 13 hours.
 
 
We took Andrew home with us to NC and he has multiple surgeries on his legs and feet. He relearned to walk correctly. He bore the pain of wearing huge casts on his legs for months. He has surgery on his hernia. He never complained. He proved to be more like Kandace than like Clara and me. He is rather... sly. He can even be called wild. But his overactive heart accepted Jesus one night in his bed as he realized he needed Jesus to save him.
 
 
Yet, there is no way to really describe Andrew. My little Bin. His life in the orphanage affected him much more than Clara's did to her. He struggles to read and is behind in a lot of areas of what many consider "typical school subjects." But Andrew is smart. He can work anything. He builds whole towns in his room using pulleys and levers. He is little, but he doesn't let that slow him down. He can't speak well, but he still says more than many could imagine he would.
 
He is the one that comes up to me and crawls up in my lap. He lays his head on my chest and pretends to fall asleep. He is also the one who didn't understand that I am getting married.
 
He is obsessed with Legos these days and he wants some for Christmas. Josh and I will not be home for Christmas this year. Josh's working schedule won't allow it. We will be home a few days afterward. So, a few weeks ago Andrew came up to me. He asked me to help him build his Legos on Christmas day. He promised me that I won't get bored and I will have fun. I proceeded to have to remind him that I will not be home. I'm marrying Josh. His face wasn't one of anger or even sadness but realization that I'm leaving. He doesn't cry. He just nods and walks off. I wonder sometimes where his little mind is in all of this. All I can do is hold him and tell him that I love him.
 
Andrew has the most generous heart in our family. He kissed me before bed the other night and said, "Oh no! I spoiled your kiss for Josh!" He listens and he knew that I have saved my kiss for Josh. I laughed as I kissed his nose and told him that it was different because he is my brother.
 
I will miss my Bin. I don't know what I'll do without my bundle of energy. He is my only brother. He takes care of me.
 

I love you, Andrew baby. You of all my siblings understand patience through the struggles. You've taught me how to be tough... just like you. Yet, somehow, you're the sweetest boy I know.
 
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Clarie



My little China doll.


Clara was only a hope in my 11 year old mind. I dreamed of Clara for months. I literally heard God tell me that my family was supposed to adopt a little girl. I saw her. I knew we were supposed to get this little girl out there... somewhere.
 

Mom and Dad had already been praying about adoption in 2004 and 2005 and I hadn't even known. Through God's amazing miracles, within several months I met my sister as she was handed to my mom in HuBei, China in April of 2006. She was known as Fu Mei. The almost 1 year old screamed for days. The first weeks with Clara were far from easy. It broke my heart to see her so terrified. We brought her home and I listened to her cry for hours each night. Her round face was cherry red and streamed with hot tears. I prayed that God would help my sister.

 
He did help my sister and with a few months she was perfectly fine. She laughed and danced and even tried to sing. There was never a cuter little girl. Kandace and I took her under our own care. We painted her finger nails, dressed her up, and hauled her around everywhere. I can remember when she first put her pudgy hands on my cheeks and said, "I love oo, Taty."




Time passed and she grew up. Suddenly my little sister was not a baby anymore. She was a pretty little girl feeling Jesus' call on her heart. She asked Jesus to save her on sunny day in the back of the van coming home from Boone, NC.
 
 
Clara blossomed and is now 7 years old. She is one of the most brilliant children I know. Her pure heart amazes me. Her love for people and her passion is amazing. She loves to talk, yet she also listens. I watch her face sometimes as people talk all around her. She processes things. God has gifted her with an incredibly discerning heart to understand truth. She is beautiful and graceful and loves to dance.... everywhere. Meanwhile in my crazy life, I came to realize she had learned to read chapter books.
 
Clara and I are very similar... except for the dancing part. I can't dance. She is much further along in her maturity than I was at her age, yet I see myself in her at times. She doesn't like change, she likes order and peace. We are close. Very close. All through highschool I could hear her soft steps up my stairs and hear her crawl up on my bed while my back was turned and I was studying at my desk. While my pencil furiously wrote notes across notebook paper, her crayons did the same as she mimicked me. There were times I was tired of spelling out words for her, but now I wouldn't trade one moment of it. She would sit beside me at the piano and play the melody to songs while I played below her. She knows how to think like me, and I can think like her.
 

At times I really believe that leaving my Clarie will be the hardest part of leaving home. Not that I love her more than anyone else, but because she sums up home in one little body. Back in the summer I was playing with her outside and she started to cry. I asked her what was wrong. She just choked out, "You're leaving me." She was the first one to admit it. She has always known things... understood things. Before Josh even asked me to marry him, she said what I knew deep down. I pulled her in my arms as I rested my chin on her head.
 
Since then she has understood that things won't be so "bad." She looks forward to being my flower girl... although she worries that she will run out of petals before she gets down the whole aisle. That's something I would worry about. Thinking of leaving her hurts worse than ever. She really is my baby. I promise her that she can visit us and spend the night sometimes. I'm not leaving forever.
 
So, my Clarie, thank you for trusting me. You know I'm your big sissy no matter where I go. My arms are always here for you to run into. I love you, my baby... I love you.



This was the hardest family member blog I've written. It's the only one in which I cried while writing. Something about my baby girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kandy

 
If there has ever been a person that has been with me through the thick and thin, I can say it is Kandace. Very little of my life has been without her. I can vaguely remember holding her for the first time. Daddy laid her in my little arms. "Meet your sister." I smiled like only a 3 1/2 year old could as I looked down into the quiet infant's face.
 
The "quiet" infant was only pretending to be calm. She turned out to be an energetic, curly headed doll of a child. She learned to talk incredibly early and learned to drive me crazy even earlier. She was the kind of child that had an imaginary friend. She cut the hair off of our cats, yet she cried if she saw a dead animal on the side of the road. She could sing perfect harmony before most kids can hold down the melody to a tune. Her little heart accepted Jesus at the age of four.
 
I can remember sitting in the middle of the playroom floor with her, completely surrounded by Barbies. We had every possible Barbie item you could have. The camper, houses, pools, cars, furniture and countless clothes. We had stories that would go on with our Barbies for literal weeks. We were dedicated. We also played outside and explored together. We spent days, weeks and years sitting side by side at the school table. We learned together. We went everywhere together. Katy and Kandace.
 
 
We nearly killed each other. Never has a child had such an ability to pull hair, but neither has a child had a sweeter hug. She made me so mad I could explode, yet I wouldn't have been the same without her. She was the one I cried with when the adoptions were hard. She was the one I locked arms with when no one understood.
 
Time passed and we got older. We sang together in church. She wasn't afraid of things like I was. She often pushed through life with more vigor than I did. I used to ask her to go order food for me at restaurants. She would roll her eyes and hop up to help "the scardy cat" out.
 
I was the serious one. She was... not. We're still that way. Now she's taller than me. She is 14 years old. She's almost 15. To me she is still four years old and bouncing around the house with her curls blowing in the wind. No matter what, she has stuck by me. We're together. We never went through a "stage" where we "hated" each other. Mom and Dad taught us that love is the only option. So it was. It is. We take care of each other. She borrows my clothes and I borrow hers. We sit in church on Sundays side by side. 
 
I would be lying to say that leaving her is easy. She has always been my best friend. It is hard for her too. I'm leaving, not because I love her less, but because I have to go with the one who I am supposed to be with. She knows that.
 
She'll always be my sister. Time nor distance can change how close we are. She has done more for me in the past few months than I will never know. She has chosen to trust her sister, her friend. She'll always be the one who can finish my sentences. She'll always be the one who sings perfect harmony to my melody. I've watched her grow into a girl after God's heart. She'll always be Kandy. My little sister. Now she'll be my Maid of Honor.
 
Thank you, Kan. Thanks for being my best friend. I'm always here for you. I love you!
 
 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daddy



Daddy. He is a friend to many, a pastor to some, son to my grandparents, husband to my mom, but Daddy to me... and my siblings. He is David Kevin Brown.

He calls me Kate. He's the one I'm most like. He is the man who has always been apart of my life. It was his voice I heard every week night as he came in the door with his briefcase. He is the one tall enough to reach things for anyone on the top shelf. He would sit down and listen to all your problems. He would talk to you till kingdom come. He always sang Love Lifted Me over me before bed. He slathered sunscreen over my white shoulders. He made me smile when I was sick. He can still easily shoot three-pointers. He sledded down the hill with me in the winter and camped with me in the summer. He loves pound cake. He kissed the top of my head as I played the piano when I was 8, and he still does even though I'm 18. He prays for me every morning. He loves us. He loves Jesus... and he lives for His Kingdom.


Daddy holding me. Ignore date.. it's obviously wrong. :)

My Daddy, like my Mama, has been there since the start. Maybe since they have always been there I could be accused of taking their faithful presence for granted. I have taken it for granted.
My Daddy amazes me. Is he perfect? No. Has he made me mad before? Well, you better believe it! We both like to be "right." But you can't stay mad at him long. I'm not sure how, but he makes holding a grudge... boring. My Daddy gives constantly. I rarely ever see him be the "taker." I remember him saying to me one day, "There are givers and takers in this world. Be a giver." He is the hardest worker I know. Sometimes he works too hard. Yet, the work is not for fame or wealth, but for the Kingdom. See, Daddy practices what he preaches. He says to believe the Bible, so he acts like he believes it. He stores up treasures in Heaven.

Daddy taught me how to believe. He gave me the keys to more than an education, case of trophies or a nice car. He gave me the keys to success. How's that? He taught me how to have faith and then he told me that I must choose to believe God. He didn't say, "Do as I say, not as I do." He lived it out.

Daddy was the one who I woke up beside in Ethiopia one May night in 2009 on a mission trip. He lay there shaking and delirious. I talked to him, but he didn't answer. It may have seemed crazy, but at that moment I thought I was going to lose him. I really realized that I need my Dad. I had never been so happy as the day he sat up in the bed and said, "Kate, I feel good today." We've been through it together.

11 months ago I sat on a plane in Sudan on the way to Ethiopia for the second time. I looked out the window at the barren and dry land. I cried. Not because of the poverty out the window, but because I was realizing... God was showing me, that I was in love. Daddy sat by me as I poured out my heart. He listened as I told him how I felt about Josh. And now, less than a year later, he will walk me down the aisle to him.

Kevin Brown has taken care of me for 18 years. He has loved me with all of his heart. He is my protector. He has faithfully and patiently lead me to Jesus. He will give his responsibility over me to my husband. His job will be over. But he will always be my Daddy. I'll always hug him and love how my head comes right to where his heart is so I can hear it beat. I'll always remember his devotions before bed, his kisses in the morning. He'll always be the one who had my heart first.

Thank you, Daddy. Thank you for everything. I'll always be your little girl.


 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mama

My Mama carried me for nine long months, she had me, she fed me, bathed me, clothed me, kissed me.... and spanked me.

She was the woman who taught me to read. This woman placed cold washcloths on my forehead when I was sick. It was by her I learned how to put make-up on my face. She listened to me practice the piano day after day for 10 years. She watched me cry, she watched me laugh. She knew when to hold my hand and when to let me struggle to trust in the Lord on my own. She challenged me and strengthed me.

In the past few months she helped me pick out my wedding dress, and flowers and favors and colors. She laces up my dress, she carries my veil, she holds my roses.

There is no one like my Mama. I know many say that, but I mean it with all of my heart. She isn't perfect. And we have argued and hurt one another's hearts. But she loves. She has done what many women would never do. She has shown me how a wife should be, how to trust Jesus. She stands by my Dad and trusts him. She gets up every morning and takes care of us.

My family at the time in my bedroom in c. 2001

Traveling with Mom to get Andrew in 2008

I'll never forget sitting across from her in the schoolroom and her high voice asking, "What is 4 x 8?" I would drop my head in my hands, "Umm, 36?" She would breathe deeply, " No, Katy, 32." I'll never forget the way she looks in her thick wintry pajamas as she sits on the couch by the Christmas tree drinking coffee, or the way she laughs when something is so funny that she throws her head back and no sound comes out. I'll never forget how she always loses her sunglasses. I can't forget her face when she's mad or her smile when she's happy. I'll never forget crying when I didn't pass a test and her words of encouragement. I'll always remember her smiles when I exceeded expectations, her standing to clap when I finish performing. I'll never forget her yelling up the stairs to my room telling me to come set the table.

She's been so much apart of my life, I can't imagine it without her. We're so different, because I'm like Daddy, yet we're so alike.

In Times Square in January 2012

Mom by my side at my bridal shower Sunday October 7th 2012
I want to be a wife like my Mama. I want to be a Mom like my Mama. I want to be a follower of Jesus like my Mama. For 18 years she has taught me how to fly. In 30 days, she will finally say, "Fly." I will hold on one last time before I spread my wings and soar. I will never forget. I will always be thankful for the years I had with Pam Brown. I love my Mama.

Mama, thank you. For everything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fear

I don't have an answer for everything. The truth is, sometimes I don't have an answer for much at all. Sometimes I'm just downright scared.
 
As a little girl I always battled fear. I had a pretty easy childhood, a wonderful Christian family and a safe home. Yet, I battled an overwhelming fear for years. Mostly before bed I would feel a sense of panic. But in general, I was afraid of my own shadow. I let my little brave sister take a lot of lead because of my shyness. I was an embarrassed not-so-good reader. Not to mention I was always worried someone in my family was going to die. Night after night Dad sat on the edge of my bed and prayed over me. He told me that God is always going to be there and take care of us.  I begged him not to leave my side... it was too scary alone. But he had to leave. I cried in fear as I lay awake night after night.
 
I grew out of that as the years passed. My fear of being in front of people passed. I got to the point where I actually sang in front of people at church. My Mom figured out that I couldn't read well because I could hardly see, so I got glasses. Before I knew it, I would sleep through the night. The fear faded.
 
Fast-forward to last week. When I heard about the turmoil in the Middle East, I was uneasy. I realized that that could apply to Josh. I feared that World War 3 would break out. That he could be deployed before our wedding. I asked Dad what all of this meant for the US. He sighed as he said we would just have to "wait and see." When I got back to my room that night. I felt it. That fear. I hadn't felt anything like that since those dark nights in my room as a child. Over the past few months I've had things to be afraid of. I wondered back in January if Josh would end up in Japan for 3 years... I mean, there were things to be afraid of. But this time, it was different. This kind of fear makes God feel far away, it makes you want to believe lies, it makes all that you know to be true flee, it takes your breath away. Suddenly I was eight years old again laying in my bed crying. I was just begging God to take away the fear. The fear of what? What I have no control over. The broken world around me, the people in my life, the circumstances that threaten to surround me. Yet, thankfully, as I quoted Scripture it ebbed.
 
That fear comes back sometimes even when there is nothing to be afraid of. Even when my family tells me that everything is okay it comes. It makes bitterness easy, anger a first choice and excuses comfortable. It is lies from the Satan and his demons. They hate me and Who I stand for. Fear is one of their sharpest tools.
 
The words of David in Psalms mean more to a heart that is weak. "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry." Psalms 40:1
 
I know that when all is easy, it is easy to rely on your own strength. I feel that a lot of my strength is gone and so I turn to the One who never leaves me. He's there. I'm still scared. I don't have an answer for everything. I am not depressed. I'm joyful, but I feel the battle that "is not against flesh and blood" a lot these days. I need His strength. I know you do too. I wonder if you have ever felt this way? Hopefuly something I have said has encouraged you.
 
I will brace myself and fight with the sword, the Word of God. When fear arises, I stand. I will not fall, because where do I stand? I stand on the Solid Rock and you know what? The view is really nice up here.
 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Thing About Waiting

I just read a blog post entitled, I don't wait anymore. If you have time, read the link below.... if not, skip and I'll explain. I realize by saying that none of you will read the link... It's okay! I appreciate you for coming to Hearts On Things Above in general!
 
 
I guess when I first read this I was expecting to shoot it down with my comebacks of non-dating jargon (but, it's not really jargon!).
 
It's a pretty long blog post from February 3, 2012, by a girl that I know almost nothing about. I read a few more of her posts just to get to know her better. I couldn't find anything about her though. I really expected to majorly disagree with this post.
 
For those who don't have time to read it, I'll sum it up. She started out by saying that she as a 25 year old woman took off the "True Love Waits" ring she had had on her finger since she was 16. She said that she decided that she is "not waiting anymore." My first thought was that she just wanted to be "wild." But no. She said that years of waiting seems to be wrecking many girl's view of God. How? Well, she says that all of these Youth Pastor's encouragement to "love God first if you want a husband" seems like a bribe to God. Her exact words were, "A lot of girls were sold on a deal not on a Savior."
 
Hmm.
She said that it begins back a decade ago for most of these women. They filled out a piece of paper with True Love Waits on it and laid it on an altar somewhere. After years trusting and waiting and waiting on God to bring them someone, they chuck it. They find that if this God is connected to this inability to get a guy, then they don't really want Him either... or church.
 
Heavy, right? Well, if a girl is that shallow then she has a problem anyway. I don't believe that not getting a boyfriend should make a Christian girl want to chuck the Church and God altogether. That's nuts.
 
But hang on... I also think that the obsession with "waiting" is wrong. It's not a bribe with God. Just because we love Him, it doesn't mean we'll get the love of a husband within this certain time period we predetermine. She said that she lived like she was waiting for something.
 
So here is where my thoughts come in. Her post made me think about the attitude I've seen in "waiting" girls on occasion. It's not universal, but I see it a lot more than I used to. What? The near obsession with being in a relationship. It becomes a fantasy world. They aren't dating and they say that they want to "wait," yet many many comments out of their mouths is about some hot guy or a girl they're trying to set up with a cute guy they know. But "I'M WAITING", they say!
 
The struggle is in the mind. I know from experience. You can not do a lot, but your mind can take you where your body would love to be. One has to be careful. It's not just for guys... girls deal with that too.
 
To finish up, she then said, "If I’d learned that it’s not bad to pray for a husband, but that my greater prayer should be for Him to spend my life as He chooses for His glory. If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute. It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others."
 
So, though her title seems brash and honestly, her story quite the opposite of mine, it got me thinking. I still support "waiting." With all of my heart! It's the reason mine and Josh's story is the way it is. But I guess I saw for the first time that waiting is not what we live for. And, it's not a bribe with God.
 
God's love is enough. Just His love. And it's not a "just"... it's everything!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Disease


Let me tell you about a disease you should know about. Well, it starts very subtly. It begins with a small part of your mind. Sometimes others may notice the creeping illness in you. Sometimes you notice it yourself. The scary part, is some don't notice it at all. If left alone, this terrible sickness will wrap itself around you. At first it feels good to wallow in it. It doesn't hurt. It actually feels rather comforting. It's then that it sinks it's icy fingers around you. It has you now. It isn't so comfortable anymore and others see it all over you. It pulls you deep into a spiral downward. Now fighting it is nearly impossible. You are consumed, overwhelmed, paralyzed.

What might this disease possibly be? Self pity. The truth is, it's really not a disease. It really isn't something we don't have control over. I heard a preacher on the radio in my car say a few days ago, "Self pity is one of the most consuming sins." I stopped and thought about that. I read a quote that said, "Self pity is easily the most destructive of non pharmaceutical drugs: it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates it's victim from reality." Sheesh. Honestly, I never think I'm having a "pity party." I always have a reason for why I feel the way I feel. If I'm miserable, for goodness sakes, I think I have quite the right.

Self pity is something that Satan uses more than I thought he did. He persuades us that we have a "right" to wallow in our problems. We don't feel like we're hurting anyone by being miserable especially if we try to hide it and shove it down in the depths of our heart. At least I don't. I think, "I may not get to see my fiance for two months... I have the right to be miserable."

But plain and simple, we do not have the "right" to wallow in self pity. Of course we are going to be in miserable miserable circumstances sometimes, but it doesn't give us a right. If we are saved by the blood of the Son of God, we have all we need. We have been saved and nothing can take us out of the hand of God. All self pity does is cripple me from being my best and it shows others that my faith in Jesus is weak.

"Indeed I count everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ," says Paul to the church in Philippians.

I love that! He calls all of that suffering RUBBISH! That's such a neat word, RUBBISH! And Paul sure knew about struggles.... he experienced a few.

"I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me." Psalm 118:13

We will suffer. That is part of life and being a follower of Jesus. Yet, we suffer, we can defend ourselves against the evil disease of self pity. Keep your eyes of Jesus. Focus on others. Life is more than for the pursuit of our own happiness. There is joy in following the Truth.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do We Even Care?

Do we even care about what?

We have one life. Despite all of the "earthy" talk of karma and such, the Bible says that we live once. If you are a follower of Jesus, you live forever in Heaven.... But, we have one life to live in this manner on this earth. One chance to live it.

I was thinking about how much time out of my life I lose because I focus on myself. In the past few months I've seen incredible things happen in my life. I've seen God move in my life. I'm so blessed that I have gotten to experience this journey thus far. Yet, I wonder how many things I miss because of where I focus day to day.

I read in the Bible about Joseph in Egypt, David as king, Esther as a queen, Peter as a fearless leader... even people like Gideon, or King Hezekiah, or Ruth. God must have had super good plans for their lives. They must have really had purpose. Well, I just don't have purpose like that. I will never save a nation from starving, lead an army to battle for the Lord, I'll never save a whole people from destruction, I'll never proclaim the Gospel to thousands of people all at once... I'll never do anything close to those things. I may not. I may never do anything like that. It's probably a good thing if I don't do some of those things. So what? Am I supposed to sit back like a lot of other Joe's in our church pews and critique the pastor's sermon? I just live and get by?

Somewhere deep inside of us as followers of Jesus, we know that God has a plan for our lives, but we as a whole really don't seem to care enough to follow it or even find out what that is.

You may expect me to say that David was just an average shepherd, and Esther a poor Jewish girl, and so on and so forth. And you would be right, they were those things. But yet, they weren't. Here is where they were different that I often am:

They had open hearts.

They were ready and tuned in to God's plan.

David wouldn't have gotten to kill Goliath if he hadn't had to do the drudgery of killing a bear earlier. Joseph wouldn't have been second in command under Pharaoh if he hadn't been in command of the palace prison for almost a decade leading up to that. They proved that they were "usable."

Sometimes I think that I can become usable to God if He suddenly decides that He needs me for a project or something. Why can't I stay prepared? I may get the opportunity to tell thousands about Jesus or I may just be expected to tell that girl over there on the bench outside of Walmart about Jesus. I might just be expected to sacrifice to invite others into my home along with my family, just to encourage a hurting soul.

God's not going to give us a big job, if we can't handle the "everyday" of serving Him.

All of those "Bible heroes" were chosen because they had an open heart. They wouldn't have been the Christians that leaned back and said, "God must not have that big of a plan for me." Their purpose was what was ahead of them. Great or small.

God has a purpose for you. Don't wait for it to come to you. Go to it. He isn't hiding it from you. A good place to start is the Word of God... the Bible. I pray that whatever it is, whether it be easy or hard, great or small, we will do it with all our hearts.

I love you all! Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Dress and One Man

Months ago I began the search. The search for a wedding dress. Now, I know many girls begin that search long before a guy is even in the picture of their lives, because it is fun to look. I just never did look for a perfect dress as a little girl or as a teenager (though I still am one). So suddenly, I was hit with the realization that I better start looking! I thought, How hard can it be? It's a white dress. Easy. Wrong. It is not easy. There is every imaginable kind of wedding dress out there, except for what I wanted, of course.

I was at camp, and Mom was on me about my need to get looking. I toyed with the idea of eloping after seeing the "to do" list for a wedding. Ahh!!!! I swallowed hard and began looking online. I found that I had an idea of what I wanted and I didn't even give dresses that didn't meet those qualifications a second glance. May be harsh, but it saved time. Why look at a dress with a red stripe when I didn't want that? I saw all of these skimpy, flirty, dresses and I cringed as I searched for something better.

That's when I found it. The dress. But, I didn't love it at first sight. I saw things about it that didn't seem like me. It couldn't work, could it? Yet, it stayed there in my mind. I kept looking at it and it grew on me. I wanted to order it. WHY??? I hadn't even been to a bridal shop anywhere! Get this, I had never tried on a wedding dress... ever. Why did I think I could order a dress from Utah and it work, first try? I really don't know. And Mom's eyes widened as we ordered it.

People asked if I had been wedding dress shopping yet.

"Have you tried on a bajillion dresses yet?" "How many stores have you been to?"

I just chuckled and said, "No. None."

They laughed and said, "Well, you'll have time to go try a whole bunch on."

"Uh... I already ordered one."

They about passed out when I said I had never tried one on. And I began to wonder if I was a fool. Goodness gracious, I should have gone and tried them on. I should have tried it out before I committed myself to it.

The dress came early. The brown box seemed to laugh in my face as I struggled to take off the tape. My heart thumped as I pulled it out. The pristine white sparkled. It looked good. Mom breathed the words, "Ok, let's get you in it." The smooth cloth dropped over my shoulders and when I looked in the mirror all I could say was, "IT'S PERFECT." It was perfect. Tears filled my eyes when a thought came to my mind.


How that dress came to me is very much like how Josh came to me. Josh is the only man I have ever been in a relationship with, he is the only man I'll ever kiss, he is the only man that will have all of me. God showed me that I didn't have to go and "try on other guys" just like I never tried on other dresses. I haven't "test kissed him" to make sure I like what I'm getting before it's permanent. God brought him to me, and I didn't have to do anything. It was a sort of love that progressed. Just like when I saw the dress. I didn't know if it would work, but now, I know circumstances, time, and everything else is in God's hands.

There could be things about the dress, that aren't perfect, but I don't know and I don't care. It's the only one I ever tried on. It's perfect to me. Josh is perfect to me. He is exactly who God designed to be my husband.

I'm not saying that girls shouldn't try on wedding dresses. That is fun and innocent! But, I am saying that we don't have to "try on guys" and guys don't have to "try on girls." The commitment of a husband or wife at the altar should always come first. For me it worked out that my wedding dress story is just like my love story. A once and done. A perfect fit.