Dec 24, 2013


So every now and then,
and then again now,
and now then again, 

I feel restless.

Like I want to be DOING something.

Like learning how to snowboard, walking across Andorra, writing an epic song, purposefully getting lost in an unknown town that speaks an unknown language, and creating fantastic hair-brained ideas for my friends and I to try. 

And then a lot of the time I need to just recover from all the hectic frenzy that is my "boring" life as a student. And as I recover I think, "shoot, I want to be DOING something." It's an interesting cycle.

So as I sit here, recovering from the quarter that just hit me like a wave and went out with the tide, I'm deciding to take some time to reflect on some of the more exciting "doings" that I have done this last year. Because really, I got to do a lot of neat stuff. 

~I visited a continent I'd never been to before and was responsible for providing all the  morning and evening worships for a two-week mission trip for about 30 high school students. I had never done so much worship programming, nor been the main person in charge of any element of a mission trip--a big step outside my comfort zone. But wow, what a fantastic experience!

~I made a couple little movies with my friends. Yes, they are dorky. Yes, they are not super planned. Yes, they were a ton of fun to make.

~I lived completely by myself for the first time ever: turns out that living alone really isn't a lonely experience.

~Oh and while I lived alone, I was nocturnal. It might not sound like it, but it was actually a pretty cool experience once I got used to it. Instead of feeling like a splurging junky for staying up to all sorts of odd hours, I was a legit working adult, pulling the night shift an average of 5 days a week, and I can now add that to my list of life experiences.

~I wrote a 30 page research paper about 2 verses of scripture in the span of 10 weeks. And I absolutely LOVED it.

~I visited Palouse Falls for the first time and sat right at the edge of where the water meets gravity. Such a terrifying and absolutely exhilarating experience. So heart-pounding incredible!

~I started a band. We are awesome. Be jealous.

~I went camping in a quaint little clearing directly between a campground, the road, and someone's backyard.

~I wrote a booklet about the dying process for the local hospital to use. This sounds really morbid, and well, it is a bit morbid, but it's a gentle tool for people to use when their loved ones are fading and they don't know how to handle it. I was pretty proud of this accomplishment and glad to put my writing skills to good use.

~I was called Pastor Katelyn for the first time. Not as a joke.

~I had a lot of wonderful late night/early morning conversations about life with amazing people.

~I had a picnic in the snow in May. I was in shorts and flip flops.

~I was paid to speak at a little 5-person church, up north in the middle of nowhere.

~I had a front row seat to watch a number of people realize their value and potential and make incredible life changes. I'd like to think I was an aid in some of that, too.

~And I got to love a lot of people. That is always an incredible experience.

So yeah, I guess I did get to do a lot this year. A lot of really awesome things. And you know what? I know I'm going to do a lot of really awesome things this coming year, too. I may not know exactly what my fantastic doings will look like yet, but you can bet I'm going to do them.

Oct 19, 2013


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." Proverbs 3:5

"Speaking of unknown variables..."

I was not in a good state. I had signed up for an interview with two leaders of an Adventist conference who were coming to Walla Walla, looking to fill two pastoral positions for the next year. I had signed my name in the final slot of the day so that they could meet me and determine whether or not I should be added to the team.

And quite honestly, I was the most nervous I have ever been in years. Panicked.

Why this panic? Because it was to be my first interview for a "real job?" Because questions on doctrine and theology were fair game? Because there were many seniors here and elsewhere competing for only two positions? None of these reasons brought this type of panic to my soul. No, the culprit was much deeper, rooted in a fear I've had brewing in my bones for a long time now.

The over-arching fear that I will not find a job, a life, in ministry.

When I write it and say it, a slough of responses jump to my mind: there is a huge spectrum of different ministry positions, you're bound to get something; even if you don't get a job in ministry, you can always get another job and volunteer for the things you want to do; and whether you get such a job or not, God won't waste your education and passions.

All excellent points, Katelyn. Thank you.

The fact remains that my heart simply breaks at the thought of not working a ministry position, where I can get paid to be with people and God all day everyday. And while the job with volunteer ministry on the side is a wonderful idea, I know myself: the more things I participate in and add into my schedule, the worse off I am. My soul, it seems, was made for simplicity.

The idea of not finding myself in such a position simply scares me. What else could I do? What else do I have the skill set and education to do? Most of the time it doesn't feel like much.

I'm doing what I believe in: pursuing a career that would be fulfilling, that wouldn't feel like work. Sometimes, though, it would be kind of nice to want to be something with a little more security, perhaps a nurse or an accountant or a waitress.

I did a trust fall a couple weeks ago. And while I trusted the group of wonderful people who caught me, my heart still sped up and I took a few seconds to commit to falling backwards. I trust God. I believe He gave me my passions and abilities for a reason, not to just have me fall and hit the cold, hard ground. It still took a long time to fully convince me to turn around, interlock my hands, and fall backwards. But now I've left the ledge, embraced the pursuit for which my heart feels crafted. And I'm just waiting to be caught, my stomach turning as I free-fall.

I believe God's got something great in store for me, that He has a reason for molding the longings of my heart just so. I believe He will catch me.

Falling just always feels longer than you'd expect.

Sep 18, 2013

Be. Here. Now.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself..." Matt. 6:34

Over the last few months, I've found myself whispering this phrase to myself. I'll stop my racing mind, breathe, and quietly remind myself, "be here now." You see, I have a nasty habit of getting ahead of myself, of examining all the steps and puzzle pieces that must be timed and turned just so in that vast expanse called the future.

Yes, planning and preparation can be good. It can help assure that you know from where you can procure next month's rent and the next day's food. It can help verify that, yes, Katelyn, you will graduate.

But there are so many unknown variables that can't be mapped out, so many pieces that I cannot put into the puzzle. And while I grasp at trying to figure out all that future, trying to secure myself in the time still ahead of me, I can oh so easily miss out on the absolute beauty of the present.

Almost a year ago, I started scouring the web to find any type of job or internship that could fill my summer, that would give me a leg up when it came time to get out into the "real world" and get that dream job (speaking of unknown variables...). And as time passed the whole process ended up bringing about a lot of panic and unnecessary stress. For example: this summer needs to contribute to my future career; but wait, what is my career going to be? What is my direction in life?! Am I going to end up in a joyless career? How am I going to have a fulfilling life?!

A dark and stressful winter spat me out the other side very weary. But after spending many months racking my brain and searching my soul to figure out my summer/life, suddenly the pieces fit--so quickly and so smoothly and so perfectly that it seemed unreal. And I wonder how much my anxiety contributed this. There definitely were some positive results from facing the experience, such as being reminded to listen to God's thoughts on my life's direction. But I think I could have saved myself a lot of stress by spending more time in the present than the future.

Yesterday I was hanging out at the high school where I now work, a puzzle piece that has proven to be just the right shape for me. I joked around with some students, hugged others, and cheered for the girl's volleyball team. As I watched one of my new friends deliver a fantastic serve, I smiled. The present was an incredible place to be.

And today, here and now, is beautiful.

Jul 31, 2013

The Power of Vulnerability

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

Sixteen days ago, I found myself sitting in the dining hall of a picturesque  hotel in Quito, Ecuador.  The following night, over 100 teenagers from Texas to Toronto to Trinidad would be flying into the city, ready and anxious to begin their mission trip experience. And there I was, a brand new staff member just learning the ropes of what it meant to be a part of this group called Ultimate Workout. Throughout our staff orientation, we were repeatedly told and asked to recite the three goals of ultimate workout: to create a spiritually transforming experience for the participants, to construct quality buildings, and to supplement the local outreach programs. "All are important, but the primary goal is first and foremost that the participants have a spiritually transforming experience." I sat and listened to this as the pastor of one of the five sites, Antigua. I was responsible for making sure the Antigua participants had a spiritually transforming experience on this trip? How on earth was this going to happen?

I felt vulnerable.

Then suddenly we were a group of 32, the Antigua family, making our home in a cramped school tucked in downtown Ambato, sharing tents with strangers who were destined to turn into lifelong friends. Then it was time for the first evening worship, my first major responsibility. I was excited for and felt capable in interacting with the participants on a one-on-one basis. I love teens and I love hearing their hearts! But as I stood up to lead out in our first ice-breaker game, all I could hear was spiritually transforming experience, and I knew that I couldn't deliver. 

I felt vulnerable.

My prayer journal throughout the entire trip goes something like this for each day: "Ok God, I have no idea what I'm doing here. I can't do this without You. There's no way this is going to work without You being the one in charge. Please, please show up. Show up in a way that only You can do. I need You. We need You."


And He showed up. Incredible things started happening. Hearts started to open. Our family began to share with one another who we were and from where we had come, our joys and our pains. And we found solidarity, knowing we weren't alone in what we had experienced. We were united and we learned and healed and grew from one another.

Through being vulnerable.

It seems that it is rarely in our strengths that we experience the most transformation. Rather, it is when we are weak, when we allow our frailness to be revealed, to be touched--therein do we find the glory of God in big ways. Therein do we find restoration.  And so I do believe it was a spiritually transforming experience, not just for the participants, but for me as well.

Because God met us in our vulnerability. And it was powerful.
My Antigua Family

Apr 6, 2013

Where are All the Heretical Figs?

"Early in the morning, as Jesus was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!' Immediately the tree withered." Matt. 21:18,19

I recently saw a list of people floating around the internet. It was written by a person on a rather extreme end of the Adventist spectrum. On this list were prominent Adventist leaders from around the world, all of whom, according to the author, were dangerous heretics. I scanned through the list, reading what heresy the individuals had been proclaiming, grinning and shaking my head in amused disbelief as I did so. There were teachers and pastors that I respect and personally know, am proud to know: people taking a stand for what they believe, teaching tremendous God-centered ideas, and helping grow this peculiar Adventist movement as they do so.

I half expected to see Luther and Zwingli's names tucked into the mix.

Naturally this got me thinking in all sorts of hypothetical directions. If I were to find myself in some form of leadership down the line, if I was even a semi-prominent member of ministry, would I make this list of "heretics?" Or would I keep from rocking the boat, not giving anyone cause to stop valuing my opinion or finding me credible? Or would I simply not have anything to say except to repeat what has been un-controversially said before me?

So many thoughts have sprung from this. First, I in no way see myself as one to regurgitate--I find it absurd now, and I'm sure I will continue to find it a silly thing to do. When we start to simply repeat what has been told to us, our minds and spiritual lives suffer, wither, and die; and when individuals collectively do this, well, the whole movement suffers, withers, and dies. So, there is and will be much for me to say that no one has said before me in quite the same way.

A big part of me wants to be the kind of person that would end up on such a list: a boat-rocker. To have such conviction that something is true, and to be convinced that others ought to join me in believing its truth because life is simply better that way--wait, this is beginning to sound like the gospel. As Christians in today's society, have we lost our heretical roots?

Maybe a little heresy is good for the soul. If no one is pointing fingers, the odds are there's nothing new showing up. And if nothing new is showing up, are we still growing? Or do we just say we are growing? If Jesus had an issue with a plant for this reason, I wonder how He reacts to us.

So I guess we'll see what the future holds. Maybe I'll make headlines and maybe I'll just read them. Whatever happens, though, I want to keep growing by God's guidance. And if He guides me into some truth that must be said, well, I hope to say it. Who knows, I might just be God's next big heretic.

Mar 10, 2013

The Questions and the Aim

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Psalm 37:4,7
When I was a senior in high school, life opened up for me. I started realizing and discovering and devouring important information and experience about God and life and love and purpose.
One afternoon I was standing  on my back deck, watching the birds flying and feeling the wind whipping all about me. And I was praying and thinking with God, just feeling so caught up in the excitement of existing with Him, in that moment. And as I felt my heart welling up from the sheer magnitude of what it meant to live in Love and be in this unfathomable relationship that defied all understanding, I declared in the shock and awe of the realization: "This is the ultimate reality!"
As I was surprised to discover later, I did not in fact coin the phrase. I was a little disappointed.
Most days I trudge through school, not feeling or being what I want to feel or be. I attempt to work against what comes over me naturally, but it's very hard work and rarely pays off in the way I'd like it to. (I talk about this school burn out thing so much it annoys me to listen to it myself. Kudos to those who have continued to listen; you are strong souls).
And then I find myself sitting in a lecture, notes long forgotten, trying to remember what makes me happy, what brings me joy, what makes me feel alive. And discovering the answers so incredibly hard to find.
Aren't I at this institution so that I can get the tools necessary to do what brings me joy? That's the whole point of the degree, right? I mean, besides the whole money thing. But if the process causes me to forget what I'm aiming for...
(As I write this, the phrase Be-Do-Have comes to mind, reminding me I'm approaching the matter backwards. But right now I'm going to ignore it and take a break from working to change my perspective. I'll take the consequences.
Also as I write this, I am reminded of how supremely, almost unfairly blessed I am to be one of the few people in the world to attend a university. I acknowledge this, am grateful about this. And I'm going to allow myself to continue being honest with how I feel and where I am).
A while back while
traveling through Baguio
I preached at a small but warm church a couple weeks ago. I had preached there last year and had been requested to return; and since it was a pleasant experience the last time and I wasn't getting a clear "no" from God, I agreed. It was a struggle to prepare for, though. I felt overwhelmed, and the sermon felt like just another thing to cross off my list of responsibilities and things to do, which was far from the experience I'd hoped for and envisioned. But God patiently guided me through the preparation and brought me into the appointed Sabbath day, while my certainty and conviction on participating waned.
But wow. What a blessing. What a privilege, an honor, and a reawakening. There were no birds and there was no wind, but there were hugs and real songs and meaningful heartfelt conversation and tears and an honesty of who we were. And I got to experience it with God and with a loving community, a part of something so much bigger than myself.
There is one big answer to my questions. That's what makes me happy. That's what brings me joy. That's what makes me feel alive.
Yes, that is what I'm aiming for.

Jan 26, 2013


"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit..." John 15:5a
We stood quietly.

The hospital's social worker had stopped by the office to recommend a patient for me to visit. The story was convoluted, painful, and involved the whole family. The patient was apparently a very spiritually-minded man who would greatly appreciate a visit from a chaplain.

He was asleep when I got to his room, but his daughter welcomed me in anyway. In the low light of the ICU we conversed quietly: I explained who I was (she was very appreciative to hear my purpose for coming), she explained his condition at length, and then she continued to explain all the complicated twists and turns her family had been experiencing, relating all the ways she had been assisting those around her. There was a pause, and we stood quietly, watching him sleep.

"And how are you doing?" I asked.

She shook her head. Stress. Anxiety. Exhaustion. She talked for a long time, seemingly grateful for someone to be concerned about her well-being. I asked if she would like prayer, and with a nod she took my hand. After praying for her I looked up to see weary tears and a soul in  need of a hug. So we embraced.

I get paid to pray and hug people when they need it. This is why I love my job.

Yes, I am a psychology major.
And now for neurons.

At birth, each person's nervous system contains well over 100 billion neurons. Throughout years of development and maturation, though, many of these neurons die off. The ones that stay are the ones well connected the right way: the neurons whose axons connect with other neurons, which eventually connect with muscle to receive neuron growth factor (NGF). Without receiving NGF a neuron cannot survive, and neither can the neurons connected to it. If a neuron is connected to as many other neurons as possible but is still not receiving NGF from any of them, it and all of its connecting neurons will die.

No matter how many people we are connected to, if we do not receive nurturing, strengthening, loving support, we cannot survive and neither can our relationships. We can try to give out to others; but having received nothing, we really have nothing to give. This applies as much to daughters of hospital patients as it does to hospital chaplains and blog readers.

As my job focus (and a good portion of my joy) centers around giving out, I am reminded of the utter importance for me to receive the best sort of NGF: Love, originating from the Vine and passed on through the branches. It's what keeps us all going strong. So if you see me sporting my badge and heading to work, I'd welcome a hug! And I'll be happy to do the same for you!