Friday, November 14, 2014

Flowers in her Hair

I haven't posted anything in a while, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to put in a plug for a few friends of mine.
Up and coming blog, Flowers in her Hair, is founded by Abigail and Madeline, two very close friends of mine, as well as strong leaders, savvy fashionistas, and driven followers of Christ. Their blog focuses on life, beauty, style, and craft. Check out their early posts and stick around for more... I know these ladies have a bright web future ahead of them!

    

From the professional-level photography to the ever helpful fashion tips, I know you'll love it there! So be sure to head to their blog and check out all the happenings there!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Welcome to Ireland, Kat.

Let's just talk about wifi for a minute. Wifi in Ireland is available pretty much everywhere. You can get wifi for free in restaurants, the airport, and even on buses! But do you know where you can't get wifi? Our hotel room, our tour bus, and the Cliffs of Moher. And do you know where I was when I needed wifi? Our tour bus and the Cliffs of Moher.

You see, our American credit card is extremely helpful to have with us so we can pay for things... unless we can't pay card. And then, well, the card isn't so helpful. So, you know, we needed to call home to get the pin for the card.

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, where the free wifi doesn't work, and the buses are coming and going. I logged onto wifi from some bus and spent probably 2 or 3 minutes filling in the log-in form just to connect. Once I was online, I pulled up Skype, dialed the number, and called. Just as John answered the phone, guess what happened. No, really, guess.

The bus drove away.

I finally get through on the phone and the bus is driving away.

Really??

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, chasing after a tour bus so that I don't lose my wifi connection, yelling into my phone, "John? John!? It's Kat! Hello!?" and then the connection was gone.

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, trying desperately to find another wifi source. I found another bus, logged on, and called again, this time actually getting through and getting the pin number! We went inside to the ATM and slid in the card, put in the pin, and selected a withdrawal... only to find that the pin was wrong.

Awesome.

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, once again stalking tour buses to find a good wifi connection, logging into servers only to have hem drive away. Stupid mobile technology.

When I finally got through to John again, he gave me the pin number, and I literally jumped for joy. But then... wait for it... he asked me questions. And I answered them. And I forgot the pin.

I. forgot. the stupid. pin.

Seriously!?!?

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, wandering through the parking lot trying to find another bus with wifi, all while still not having the pin and not seeing the stupid freaking Cliffs of Moher! There I am at the Cliffs of Moher, and I haven't even seen the cliffs. And we can't get money off our card.

So many times the buses drove off, and so many times I was so close to getting what we needed, and I still. just. couldn't. And as I'm sitting on the sidewalk in defeat at the Cliffs of Moher, I declare, out loud, that I do not appreciate God's sense of humor. And I think I heard God laugh.

To wrap up a very long story about a very long day, we did get the pin, and we can get cash at ATM's. God came through in the end, as he always does.

Welcome to Ireland, Kat.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Forever Yours, Forever Loving

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15: 11-24
I just wanted to write to you and tell you how much I love you and care for you. I know we don’t talk much, but I am desperately waiting for you to let me into your life. While I am waiting, I wanted to write you a love letter to try to put into words my love for you, even though words will never do my love justice. I love you with all of these words and more. My love for you is indescribable, unfathomable, and forever faithful. I love you so much, child, that the following paragraphs will only begin to explain my love for you. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How Anna Really "Let It Go"

For my Media & Society class (MC101) we were given a unique assignment: "Select, watch and critique a recent film that fits one of these criteria: it has been praised highly by critics, it has had or is having a significant effect on popular culture, or has caused significant controversy. Very briefly outline the plot of the film. Then, dig into it, asking what the films' main theme is (or themes are) and what we learn about the screenwriter and/or filmmaker’s beliefs about the world. If you are a follower of Christ, describe how should you approach this film. Finally, describe the extent to which your Christian beliefs play a role in your choice of the films you watch?" 

So, naturally, I chose to write about Frozen


After reading some articles, playing Frozen-related games, and annoying my roommate with the soundtrack, I finally knocked out the following paper (with which I am really pleased). So enjoy, as I explain to my media prof (and you) how Anna really "Let It Go" in the movie, Frozen


Oh, and by the way... spoiler alert.



Disney’s Frozen is a heart-warming film about two royal sisters in the fictional kingdom of Arendale. Elsa and Anna are depicted as fun-loving, inseparable sisters who use Elsa’s powers to play in the snow. As Elsa gets older, her powers increase beyond her control so she is unable to control them. Elsa decides to hide her powers from the world, including her sister. When Elsa is crowned Queen of Arendale, she must appear in public for her coronation and ball. When Anna stresses Elsa, Elsa flees and sets off and eternal winter everywhere. Anna then sets out to save Arendale and bring back her sister to melt to endless snow.

The opening song, Frozen Heart, sets the scene for the movie. As the men are slaving away and harvesting ice in the frozen tundra, they sing about ice’s powers, saying it is “stronger than one, stronger than ten, stronger than a hundred men,” and they must “strike for love [and] strike for fear” to break the frozen heart. This scene so greatly foreshadows later events in the film. When Elsa’s powers are out of her control, people call her a monster and condemn her. As the ice queen, she is depicted as having the frozen heart. Elsa is “beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold,” just as the opening song describes. When Elsa accidentally strikes Anna with her powers, Anna is then cursed with a frozen heart, proving that “ice has a power [that] can’t be controlled.”


A main theme in this film is the meaning of true love and its saving power. Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart and Anna discovers that the only way to thaw her frozen heart is by an act of true love. The characters initially assume they need to take Anna to her fiancĂ© for true love’s kiss, but Anna soon finds out that her beloved Hans is only using her in order to get to the crown. Anna is then forced to reconsider the meaning of true love. As she and Olaf (her snowman friend) embark on a journey to make it to Anna’s new friend Kristoff for a second go at true love’s kiss, Anna sees her sister about to be slain by Hans. Instead of running to Kristoff, she sacrifices herself to save her sister by jumping in front of Hans’ sword. Anna’s sacrifice for Elsa is the act of true love needed to save Anna. While most Disney movies and fairy tales use true love’s kiss as the saving power in the story, Frozen breaks this tradition by showing how powerful sisterly love can be.

This movie also focuses on the theme of sacrifice. As Anna sacrificed herself for her sister, Elsa sacrificed her powers for Anna’s safety in the beginning of the movie. Elsa is born and gifted with this magical power, but in order to keep her sister safe, she confines herself to her room and restricts her contact with the outside world. Along with this sacrifice came their parents’ sacrifice; by keeping Elsa from the outside world, they also shut out the world from their own lives, as well as Anna’s, even though she was dying for some human interaction. Anna sings, “I think some company is overdue. I’ve started talking to the pictures on the walls! ... It gets a little lonely, all these empty rooms, just watching the hours tick by!” Since Elsa has to conceal her powers, her entire family must also make sacrifices.

I have read several articles lately about this film discussing hidden values and subliminal messages that Disney is trying to expresses, including but not exclusively acceptance of homosexuality, benefits of polygamy, and even the message of Christ. After reading so many conflicting views, I am still under the impression that Frozen is an innocent children’s film with great morals and messages. It stresses the importance of sisterly love over romantic love through Elsa and Anna’s relationship. It also breaks the anti-feminist traditions of other fairy tales in which the prince kisses the princess and she gives up her entire life to be with him (i.e., The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and more). Frozen shows girls that they can be independent, and princesses don’t need a prince.

Frozen also seems to have a covert Gospel message. We see in the movie that Elsa has done wrong and broken her relationships with the rest of the world. Anna, however, takes a punishment she does not deserve in order to save her sister.  Rather than letting Elsa suffer her deserved punishment, Anna takes her place. Upon this ultimate sacrifice, Anna is then unfrozen. This mirrors the story of Christ. Elsa represents the world, where we have all sinned and broken relationships and done wrong. Anna, however, represents Christ, who is pursuing us all of the time, no matter how much we push him away, just as Elsa shut Anna out of her life for so long. No matter what we do or have done, Christ still saves us, bringing resurrection and reconciliation.


While this movie is seemingly a children’s film, it has an excellent message of the Gospel to which all viewers can relate. Like Lewis’ Asland (The Chronicles of Narnia) or Golding's Simon (Lord of the Flies), Anna is the Christ figure no one expected. Even if this message was an accident made by the filmmakers, it still gives all viewers a relatable, simple version of the Gospel. As Christians, we should embrace the Christian themes of this film. True love, sacrifice, and salvation are meaningful in both sacred and secular cultures, and it is wonderful to see Disney bridge the gap in this movie.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Perfect.

If you know me, you know I'm a planner. It's in my nature, it runs through my veins, it's part of me. I plan.

Even if you didn't know that I'm a planner, I'm sure you know that I'm also trying to be in control. I don't do well with spontaneity, I'm not a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and I don't let other people plan.

So I'm sure that it will come as a surprise to you that I let Chase plan our entire Valentine's Day date night.

But, of course, as a planner, I still had a plan in my head of exactly how I wanted the night to go. I expected him to be standing in the Kresge lobby with a dozen roses in hand and his dress clothes on, ready to take me to dinner under his reservations at Bella Notte in Lexington, where we would share a spaghetti for two in the candlelight followed by cheesecake for me and something chocolatey for him, which he would of course let me taste.

...

Imagine my disappointment when he called Bella Notte to make a reservation only to find out they were full. Not only had I given up control, but I also wasn't going to get the perfect evening I had planned. When he told me he had made reservations somewhere else, I was absolutely positive that I would never let him plan another date night ever again. (I also overreact a tad...) I swallowed my disappointment and told Chase that anywhere we went would be perfect as long as I was with him. And as I convinced him, I also convinced myself.

I spent the next two weeks reminding myself that it really didn't matter where we went, and that it really would be perfect no matter what. And I think I almost believed it.

And then that Friday came, and all day I was smiling and skipping from class to class and bragging to everyone that my boyfriend would be there in 6 hours. 4 hours. 2 hours! 30 minutes!!! I rushed to my room and got ready, finding the perfect shoes to go with my perfect dress and perfecting my makeup and finding the perfect purse and the perfect jacket.

And as I worried about making the night perfect, I kept Chase waiting in the lobby for about 20 minutes. I spent so much time and effort making myself look a little better that I neglected the love of my life, the whole reason I had been excited all day, all week, all month.

I finally finished up and went downstairs to find my handsome boyfriend waiting for me, holding a single red rose bouquet in his hands. We were both completely in awe that the moment had finally come, and we were actually together again. In that moment, I didn't care how many flowers he had brought me, or if his tie matched my dress, or if he had made reservations for dinner. I was just thrilled to see him, to hold him, to finally be with him.

So I tied his tie, ran my flowers up to my room, and left with him for dinner. We went to Paisano's, this tiny hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant whose head chef is from Afghanistan and whose waiter was more awkward that Jessica Day and Jenna Hamilton combined. We ate heart-shaped bread and tiny salads and I even got my spaghetti. And we didn't order dessert, so I understood that I wouldn't get my cheesecake, and I wouldn't get a bite of Chase's hypothetical dessert, either. And I was completely ok with that.



My night met nearly none of my expectations. Instead of a dozen roses, I got a single rose, and that single rose means more to me than any dozen ever would. That single rose is sitting in my window sill for all of Wilmore to see how simply beautiful our love is. Instead of Chase standing ready to go in the lobby, I had to tie his tie for him. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Instead of a large, loud, fancy, public restaurant, Chase took me to a small, quiet, homey, romantic one. Instead of sharing my spaghetti and being cute and romantic, I got to eat my own dang spaghetti. And I still have left-overs in the fridge! And instead of cheesecake and chocolate at the restaurant, Chase surprised me with a trail of notes saying why he loves me, which led to a homemade cheesecake all for me.

As it turns out, perfect is just a relative concept. There is no single perfect date, or one way to have a perfect Valentine's Day. I can plan all I want, but even my expectations will never be perfect.

Because in life, the reality is so much more perfect than my plans will ever be.

Thank you, Chase, for a perfect evening.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bigger Plans

I'm sure that everyone is aware of the government shutdown last week. Or is it still shut down this week? Does anyone know the current status on that? I guess I'll have to Google that one. Anyways... I'm betting very few of you know the real reason the government shut down. No, it wasn't because of funding disputes, or fighting between political parties, or the fact that so-and-so is wrong and such-and-such is right. Actually, the reason behind the government shutdown is much much larger than a little political debate.

It was so Chase could go to church with me on Sunday. 


Now I know what you're thinking. "The government did not shut down so you could see your boyfriend, you narcissist," and my response to you is, you're right. The government did not shut down so I could see my boyfriend. It shut down so he could go to church. And not just any church, but the church I was also attending. Because God makes all things work together for our good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT
For those of you who don't know, my boyfriend, Chase, just returned home from basic training for the National Guard and was wanting to come visit me at school this last weekend, but he was going to have to go to drill. In light of the government shutting down, however, his drill was moved to October 26th, allowing him to come down to Kentucky for the weekend. He left early Saturday morning and arrived around lunch time, giving us most of the weekend to just hang out and be together. 

But God had much bigger plans for the weekend than we did.


God has been working on Chase's heart since he left for basic training, and I've been blessed to be a part of that transformation. The more we talk about it, the more I see Christ revealing Himself in Chase's life, and it's been really exciting to watch. 


Since leaving for college, I've been super excited and anxious to get to Chase to attend church with me at Quest. Our home church is great and we both love it, and I love Quest, so I figured Chase would love it, too. As it turns out, this week was baptism week, so Pastor Pete preached about the importance of being baptized after accepting Christ into your life and starting your relationship with Him. Throughout the service, I could really feel the Holy Spirit moving in Chase, convicting him, telling him to make his next step, but I could also tell that Chase's next step was not getting baptized at Quest. 


Chase accepted Christ into his life this Sunday, October 6th, 2013, and was born again, adding to the Kingdom of God and causing celebration on earth and in heaven. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
I am eternally amazed by God's awesome plans for us in everything we do, from taking the wrong turn at a stop sign to shutting down the American government. I have never been so convinced that everything happens for a reason, and I think salvation is a pretty good reason. 

I am so happy for you, Chase. You continue to amaze me every day, and I love the new person you're becoming even more than the old one that's gone away. I am so excited to see God continue to work in you and through you, and I'm so blessed to be a part of your journey.

Thank you, God, for letting me be a part of Chase's story, and thank you for giving us stories to tell in our ministry. Help me lead more people to know you. And thank you, Father, for designing and ruling our lives, because without You we could do nothing, but in You all things are possible.
Amen.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hiding behind Social Media

I'd like to just start by stating a simple fact: I enjoy social media. I really do. So when I start ranting here in a few minutes, just keep in mind that I check Facebook often, I tweet regularly, and my Instagram is updated frequently.

That being said, I do have some problems with social media: it makes it too easy for us to hide. The culture of social media has given us an easy out, an escape from real life.

For example: I was in the school library the other day when I overheard some students cursing and calling each other "sluts," along with various other insults (delivered jokingly, but still disrespectfully). In my conservative, private, Christian college with Christian classmates, this is pretty much not at all what I expected to overhear in the library. I felt oddly called to do something, like maybe let them know that their speech was not glorifying God, or let a librarian know that there were students causing a scene in the back. But then I also felt called to just ignore them. I thought about it for a while, and I sat trying to drown out their conversation. Then I made a decision - a decision that, in retrospect, I realize was definitely the wrong decision. I posted a status update on Facebook. This was, well, stupid. I sat and typed, something to the tune of, "Students cussing up a storm in the library. Not sure how to handle this." And when I hit send, I had done my part. I didn't have to confront the students, or tattle to a librarian, but I also didn't just ignore the situation. In my mind, I had done something about it.

Except the something I had done was cowardly. I took the shortcut. It was irresponsible and immature. The mature response is to confront a fellow Christian when they make a mistake, and to do so lovingly, carefully, and in private. The mature response is not to "subtweet" about it and just hope something is done. The mature response is not to post a status update and pass off the responsibility to anyone who may read the post. The mature response is to follow the guides of Pastor Doug from the latest sermon series, and to practice "active listening," like Ray Ramano in "Everybody Loves Raymond."

What are we doing?

You know that time when you were really down in the dumps about something, so you posted a very vague, nondescript status or tweet? It's ok, you can admit it. We've all done it. Now think about it: why did you post in that way? Why did you write something vague instead of just stating your problems?

When that guy broke up with you, did you tweet, "oh, my poor broken heart," or did you tweet, "Just got dumped. Feeling sad. Prayers, please." I'm guessing you picked the first one. I mean, that's what I did.

And when someone insulted you via text message, did you post, "yah, well you're stupid, too," or did you confront that person directly about their insult? I'm betting you picked the first one. I did, too.

So what's wrong with that? 

When we post something like, "oh my poor broken heart," we're being passive aggressive. We're manipulating people into asking us what's wrong. And when we post something vague instead of confronting the problem, we're being too cowardly to take care of ourselves. Facebook and Twitter are great, but not when we use them the wrong way. We need to stand up for ourselves! We need to face a challenge head on, not just tweet about it and hope it goes away.

Subtweeting is never the way to go. I know this is easier said than done, but it's so true. As Christians, we are called to only speak when our speech will build each other up (and in today's culture, speech includes Facebook posts and tweets). We are called to turn the other cheek. We are not, however, call to be passive aggressive and immature.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 
Ephesians 4:25-32 NIV

I should never have posted that message on Facebook about the people in the library. A passive aggressive post doesn't glorify God, and it definitely doesn't show my classmates how to live for Christ. Let's stop subtweeting. Let's stop hiding behind status updates. Let's stop being the flawed humans that we are. Let's instead glorify God in all that we do, from our words, both written and spoken, to our actions, and everything in between. We're never gonna fix anything with vague Facebook posts. So let's stop wasting our breath! We're only given so much time on this earth, and I don't know about you, but I don't want to waste any of that time doing anything not in God's plan for me.

I'm going to confront someone humbly and lovingly when they're making a mistake. I'm going to ask for help upfront instead of posting a passive aggressive status. I'm going to try harder to be all that God created me to be. I'm going to stop hiding behind status updates.

Are you?