Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christ for Christmas

Last week this time, I rode around Licey with the Vicar to invite people to “Amigos de Jesus” for a Christmas party. I have been in many different types of homes in my time here. For me, the home is more than a place, it is a feeling. In Germany it is “gemütlich”, in England it is “cosy”, in the States it is “cozy”, here it is “cómodo.” While I put words to it and four walls to it, it still is so much more for me than all this. 

In my time here I realize that I am not home, but yet this is my home for now. I am okay with this for now. I realized as I stood in one home with a dirt floor that sits on the top of a mountain; I know something very different. I could try to sugar coat this and talk about how beautiful that house was because it held a family and the love of Christ within it that was far more beautiful than anything. While all that is true, it isn’t that sweet. We are sinners who live in a filthy dirty world. I am a sinner, and all I could think was; “How do people live like this?” 

The reality is that I have been spoiled rotten! I know the feeling of controlled temperatures, drinkable running water, electricity 24 hours a day. I know the luxury of clean sheets to crawl under at night and wake refreshed in the morning. I know the luxury of having whatever I want whenever I want (notice I said "want" not "need"). I’m beginning to realize how many luxuries I had in the States and even still have here in the D.R. 

What this all makes me aware of is the fact that my small transition from sanitation to tropical sweat is only a glimpse of what Christ sacrificed for us. I wonder if his skin crawled the way mine does when I realize just how filthy I am. I wonder if he lay awake at night unable to quite his mind. I wonder if he felt helpless to help even knowing His ultimate plan of salvation. I have no idea how the God of heaven came down and exchanged his home in heaven for a home on this earth. Even in the cleanest places of this earth there is a stench of sin, corruption, and filth that we cannot escape. Yet, it is Christ who took on flesh and blood for us. 

It amazes me to think he gave it all up to share it all. How does that even work!? He wants to share with us, but to do that He had to live in and among us first. He wants to be with us, even if it means crawling skin, a restless mind, bags under his eyes, dirt under his nails, humiliation, discomfort, and death. I’m not so humble, I still live in a mansion in comparison to most people here. On account of Christ however, one day, home will be with Christ. In his exchange we receive this hope and promise. His suffering for our life. I thank God this Christmas that He came, lived, and died so that one day all people in Christ will know what home really is; with Christ, in Him. 
Merry Christmas and God Bless!

2 Corinthians 8:9

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hungry for "Change"

Psalm 146:2-4
New King James Version (NKJV)
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.

I read this passage this morning and I didn’t know why, or for what. I woke from a restless sleep this morning to find out that my country has a new hope. Wether that is the hope for the present president or for a new president in four years, there remains hope. It amazes me to see so much social media going on among my friends and a certain sense of pessimism. I think this is the pessimism I woke and carried with me this morning. I began to understand a certain lack of hope among those of like mind in political understanding. In other words I drank the kool-aid this morning as I read so many negative statements about the elections.

I was also blessed with a new perspective today that gave me peace. Like many I was sickened to discover this morning the fate of the states for the next four years. The difference for me though is that it is a very different experience to see the hype of the elections and be in another country. I am a part of it and yet very separated from it.

A few weeks ago when I had dengue I sat on a couch in the house of my internship supervisor. We talked theology together and I took in a lesson on mercy at that time. Three little boys came tapping on his gate (all the homes here are surrounded by gates and extra locks. This allows people to keep their front door open for extra ventilation, and instead of ringing a door bell people tap on gates). 

It would have been easier to look away as you often have to do here as it is difficult to decipher when to help. Instead Pastor engaged. He talked with the boys. He asked them why they didn’t have food, he asked them if they wanted the same food he had for breakfast. He left and came back with three disposable plates of food. What stuck out to me with this image was his (almost two years old) son trotting behind him holding one of the three plates of food. This stuck out to me because for this little boy giving was natural. He didn’t have to think twice because his father gave him all that he needed to do this. He gave with joy, without fear or want. He just gave. 

I was given a wonderful gift today. A reminder of just how much my own father has given me to give without thinking. A little boy came up to me during a field day of Spanish class. He held out his hand and talked to me in Spanish. He told me he needed money. I wanted to look away but the image of my pastors son came to mind. I engaged. “What do you need money for?” “Food” he said.  I asked him why he needed food “I am hungry” he said. I asked him where he would get food from and he told me "the store." Without thinking I said; “Let’s go.” I abandoned my instructor and told her I would be back. The little boy led me to a store. On the way I asked him what he wanted for food, “rice” he said. In my mind this was enough to tell me he really wanted food because he wasn't asking for much, just rice. I took him to a restaurant instead and got him some food. 

I began to notice that he would turn his face to me when he would talk but would avert his eyes. When we sat down with his food he looked right at me and gave a big smile and in english said “Thank you!” It made me want to cry. I wanted to take him home with me. This is what I was afraid of, relationship. His hunger was satisfied for this afternoon but perhaps for dinner he will have to find another person who will open their pocket without looking at him to notice the freckles on his face. Perhaps he will find some other person he will have to hide his beautiful face from to get food. I wonder how many people will notice the bags under his eyes from malnutrition. It doesn’t take much to see that his belt was on the last hole and still wasn't enough to hold up his pants. I have said several prayers for this child today because that is all I can do. I hope I get to see him again. 

It was freeing to be able to offer food for this little boy today. When I thought freedom was looking away and not allowing myself to look into the face of want and hunger I found a different kind of freedom. A freedom to offer what God has given to me to one who needs. A freedom to look into the face of hunger because I have been given all I need in abundance to share and my father has shown me how! Freedom was found in the face of a child too ashamed to look at me when I realized I should have been the one too ashamed to look at him. We still live in abundance. We still have much to give. Hope is not lost. Freedom is still found when freedom is given. While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being!!!   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I’m still smiling.
First off let me preface this by informing you all that I write this with the intention of posting it at a later date (if at all). It has been two weeks since leaving Home and First Lutheran and today I had my installation at the Church in Los Americas. It has been an eventful few days and as I was considering what to write the words were being constructed in Spanish (Even though I could not by any means reconstruct this blog in Spanish it is still encouraging to know that I am beginning to think in Spanish).

There have been a few things I have come to realize in my time here. First; how much this process is like being born again. I am totally and utterly dependent upon the good graces of my team and the kind people who have weathered the same storm I presently weather. Second, I am beginning to form theological concepts of what mercy really is and what it really means to be not just a missionary but a Christian. 

Today was quite possibly the most eventful day I have had. It began with breakfast at an all inclusive resort (Tough job, I know). The foundation, or rather those who helped start, form, and support the mission were all in the capitol and had arrived from the states. We held meetings for two days at an inexpensive resort in order to give reports on the workings of the mission. After breakfast everybody packed up and we all went to church. It was really hot today and I sweat a ton throughout the service, it didn’t help that I had the full diakional regalia on. 

Okay! Long story short, I got really sick today. I got so hot and cold, achey and nauseous. My head was throbbing all the way home from the capitol city (which was about a three hour drive). My eyes were rolling into the back of my head and I still have this pain in my head. It could be dehydration with heat stroke or something else, all I know is that there were moments today where I was wondering if I was going to start convulsing and foaming at the mouth. 

In addition to all this we paid a trip to a mental hospital. This is where it starts to get good; I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving at this place, it was sort of impromptu. The first things I noticed was a younger woman who was wondering around free and obviously was excited to have guests. She didn’t have complete control of her body and she could not speak in coherent sentences. There were a lot of shocking things in this hospital such as grown men and women who had been reduced to laying in cribs and in diapers all day with little to no human contact. There were men who were left naked to roam the hospital. There was a smell similar to what you would smell when you go to the zoo. The place smelled like the beds were saturated in urine and the diapers were full of defecation. I held hands with a woman who would giggle and smile at just the gentle stroke of a hand upon her arm. 

All this comes together to make a point; not what a wonderful person I am for coming to the DR to stroke the faces and hold the hands of abandoned children, (Because in all honesty I haven’t done much of that) but to make the point that today I saw what it is all about. In all honesty this realization frightened me a bit. What I mean by that is this; I stated earlier how the whole day I was really sick. These past few weeks I have been worthless. I have had my hand held by faithful members of my team as I go to and from Spanish class. I have been carted from place to place. I have been given a beautiful room, a warm welcome, and an amazing invitation into a team and family I could not have picked myself or been more blessed in. I have been amazingly lavished not in the luxuries and amenities of an all inclusive hotel but in the love of a team who has carried me and said “This is what being a missionary and a Christian is all about.” The patience and love my team has shown me in repeating several times the words I fail to remember, in patiently developing the plans for my future and investing in me to make sure that I can better know and understand the grace and mercy of God. 

I found myself after attending the hospital asking myself; “what does this all mean.” I didn’t want to admit what it meant. After visiting that hospital I thought about how the people I encountered there relate to a message and a gospel that we as Christians bear. It dawned on me that were Christ present in this situation, he would make his dwelling among them and invest time, energy, and resources to make that sweet message known. Then I panicked because if you break it down more; Christ is present. He dwells in all of us! His grace and His mercies are shown in and through us. In the way my team cares for me even when I have done nothing to deserve it. Christ is seen in the way my team cared for the people in the hospital today unhindered by the brokeness that surrounded them but diligently pressing forward and thinking “how do we work with this?” 

Point is, Christ Lives! He is very real and if you ever think for a moment that you have no part in bearing witness to that then you have been sadly mistaken. We have been amazingly blessed by the father and given to share the wonderful saving news in big and small ways. It is encouraging to see so many signs along the camino that say “Christo Vive” which means “Christ Lives.” It is a message we continually need to return to because it is a present thing! It isn’t stuck in the past. It is happening here! It is happening now! It isn’t just a sweet reminder on the side of the road for drivers. It is a reality that impacts our everyday life. His life is made known and is happening in and among his children. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I figure I may as well do this now since I don't know when I will get a chance to do this again

Cool morning shadows sadly shift across the floor
Each time we say goodbye it's harder than before
Even after all the pain of parting still we find
That we must mourn the death of the dreams we leave behind
As I turn my back on all that means the most to me
The sounds and smells, the light that dances on the sea
The greatest gamble is to act on the belief
That only the slave who leaves it all is truly free

The sacrifice that we both lay before His feet
A thousand moments that belonged to us
That now will never be

By faith we hold a better dream inside our hearts
A time when our family will never have to be apart
Till then we struggle with just what it really means
And we will mourn the death of our beautiful dreams
Mourn the death of our beautiful dreams

The above is a little song by Michael Card from his Album "A Fragile Stone." It is an album that not only Biblically explores the life of Peter (πετροσ=Peter, πετρο=rock (or stone;)) but also speculates of the emotions and life of one included in the mission of the early Church in Christ. Let me preface this by saying I love this song, and often listen to it before leaving my family and friends. My mother, on the other hand, does not believe it to be an uplifting and accurate portrayal of the life of a Christian. In many ways I understand where she is coming from. If you read my blog last month my sentiments on this are somewhat expressed. The life of a Christian does not know ownership of dreams, ownership of moments, the mourning of the things of this world, or gambling this life for the next. No; the Christian holds firm to those promises offered in Christ and knows without grief, pain and struggle. We do this because we know the One we place our faith in is stronger and promises far more than we could ever hope for or build for ourselves. 

This week has been a trying week for me. It is the week before my departure for the Dominican Republic. I thus far have been a trooper and not cried too much, although today got the better of me. I requested the prayers of my fellow church workers on facebook and within minutes I had an overwhelming response from God's faithful people which made me  not only cry but realize something; there is great paradox for me in this transition. I have to shamefully admit that the above song is my song because I know the pain of parting, and the mourning of the death of dreams. I'm not talking about dreams like becoming a famous pastry chef, or opening a chocolate shop, or of loosing fifty pounds and meeting a man who thinks he is not worthy of me and makes me feel like I am every mans dream for a spouse. No, I am talking about dreams far more simple than that, like being around for Christmas, seeing June take her first steps, and Lucius begin to articulate the faith, and Frankie come to a point where he shares that faith with his brother and sister. I'm talking about the dreams of having hot cocoa in February when there is snow outside (even though I hate the cold). I'm talking about very basic things like comforts and luxuries and continuing education seminars and spending time with my dear friends and their children (you know who you are!). I mourn those things, but like Michael Card's conveyance of Peter, I do not mourn those things without hope. 

DO NOT... I REPEAT... DO NOT FEEL SORRY for me! Like Peter I would not give these things up were I not certain that what God has to offer is better. I would not give them up if I did not believe that they pale in comparison to the sacrifices Christ made for us. Therefore I cannot consider them sacrifices, but blessings. Blessings where I can know better the sacrifice that Christ made for us, blessings where I know He will draw near to me as I draw near to him. Blessings where He will give me another family to share in joys and sorrows with. Abundant blessings! I know I will reap far more than I give in this transition of moving to the Dominican Republic, but it doesn't lessen the blow of saying "goodbye" to those who raised me, watched me grow, and stood by me in calm and in storm (I know, I know, I WILL see my family and friends again, it isn't like they are gone for forever or like I am saying goodbye for forever). Do not feel sorry for me, but do pray for me. Pray that we can all know God's richest blessings made known in our needs. Pray that we would see "moments that once belonged to us" as moments that always belonged to God. Pray that we may know the fullness of our moments belonging to us when we return them to the giver of all good things who will take them and return them in ten fold. 

Thank you to all of you who read this blog, pray for me and the team I will serve with and on, and thank you for all who support the work being done in the Dominican Republic. We truly couldn't do what we do without your own sacrifices of time, money, and prayers. We are all united in this work together even though we are all separated by miles. I will be leaving October 1st and I can't tell you how excited I am! It doesn't come without times of doubting though which is why I need your prayers! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are all a blessing to me! 
Ever His,
Katie Z.

Matthew 5

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Beatitudes

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

These words are on the American declaration of independence and held very dear as words of truth by so many. Words that may be threatened and rights that seem to be being infringed upon. Since having returned home, I have been sucked into all the political rantings and outcries of many Americans to regain "Our America!" I have to admit that I joined that throng and felt compelled by the speeches, the debates, and the cries of many Americans.  
I decided to exercise some of my civil liberties in going for a bike ride without a helmet! Risky, dangerous and a bit reckless I know. In fact this act got me thinking a bit about things taken for granted. It even got me thinking about my time in England. I started to think back to a hospital visit I made at Addenbrookes. I will set the stage in telling it like a story;

I got the name on my list. I reviewed the notes on this particular patient. I recall trying to visit this patient before and they were always out. I looked forward to getting to meet this particular patient because it seemed that the chaplains had some interesting visits with the family members of the patient. I was looking forward to this opportunity to show mercy and be present in this family's pain. The patient was about my age, which was another factor that excited me. She had had brain damage from an accident and remained somewhat unresponsive. The other chaplains however visited with her family whenever they visited and said prayers and offered comfort as the accident was sudden and left their daughter in a constant state of wondering if she would ever return to a fraction of the woman, daughter, sister, worker that she once was. 

I went to her room and couldn't really prepare myself for this encounter. First off, she was in her room and I wasn't expecting this. Second she was sitting upright and appeared to be alert with no other family around. I went in and introduced myself, no response. I noticed that her head was healed and hair was growing on a part of her head where her skull had been removed. She had a concave head on one side of her head. I told her about how I read the notes and was excited to meet her because I knew we must be about the same age, no response. I told her I don't get to see many patients my age, no response. I told her that I mostly see older people, no response. I paused as I began to ask myself a million questions. I wished there was back up for situations like this. I wondered if she could hear and understand me. I wondered what she was thinking. I began to wonder if she felt annoyed by me, or if she was jealous, or angry that they sent a girl about the same age as her to offer spiritual care. I looked at the pictures on the wall and noticed a very different person before me than the one in the pictures. Her pictures showed a mobile, vibrant youthful woman who had friends, good times and went to a lot of parties. Now the woman before me seemed trapped within an immobile body incapable of articulating wants or needs. I said a prayer over her and went to go process and reflect on what I had just experienced.

When I reflected on this side of the pond on that experience, I realize that we talk a lot about rights. Why is it that my "rights" though the same as many other Americans look very different based on the fact that at the end of the day, I'm the one walking out of the hospital? I would suggest it is because in the end, God (i.e. our endowing creator) did not give us rights. He gave us gifts. Each and every day is a gift, my house, my home, land animals, wife, and children; they are all gifts! Not rights, but gifts. As I cared for the sick and dying they reminded me of every gift I have taken for granted and should take advantage of for as long as God continues to give them. I think about all the people who can't walk while I am out running. I think of all the people who just found out they have a terminal illness and whose world seems to stop as I look to my own future. I think of all the people detained in a hospital or by disease as I am able to move forward with my life. While I lament things I never had, or haven't received I remember that there is also a lot that I have been given that I don't deserve. I thank God for the gifts he gives and I pray that I don't lament the things I don't have and I remember that the all that I have is not a right but a gift. 

Psalm 146:2-4

New King James Version (NKJV)
While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.  Do not put your trust in princes,Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I am still readjusting to the Change!

Dear Friends, 
If you haven’t been keeping up (That is okay, my life is sort of like one of those shows you can pick up at any point. It’s not like watching a show where you have to know character “B’s” parents to know why character “Z” bought a tootsie roll at the 7/11) as I was saying; If you haven’t been keeping up with these blogs then I will fill you in with a word; “Transitional!” 
I realized last week how we are all in some form of transition. Event’s happen, people come and go, jobs come and go, purpose for our lives change sometimes by the hour, sometimes by the years. We are all Changing, transitioning, adjusting, and shifting. I don’t know what walks of life each person comes from, your shift may be transitioning from being a junior in high school to being a senior, It may be facing another year at a school that no longer holds the friends you used to hang out with. Transition may be getting married, or watching a child get married. Transition my be leaving the country or returning to a country. Transition for you may be a moving back in or out of your parents home. Transition may be a bit more grave such as facing a reformed future that includes radiation, chemotherapy, or some other treatment plan for illness. Transition may even be facing a reformed future without treatment because the one you loved is no longer in need because they have died. 
We all transition from the moment we open our eyes in the morning and begin to process information. We are changed by the influence of every outside stimulus we encounter. Most of us don’t like transitioning. Most of the time transitioning is our way of adjusting to a forced change in circumstances. A lot of the time we gloss it over with ideas like; “it just is what it is” “I can’t change it, so I just have to change” “It could be worse” “one day at a time” Sometimes however we are bold and willing to ask the more difficult questions and rebel against transitioning and we say things like; “I will change but I don’t have to like it” “Why do these things happen to me?” “What is the point of all this?” “How do I transition when I’m still stuck in shock?” 
Sometimes we even throw God into the mix and ask “WHY GOD!? WHY!?” This was something I faced a lot in hospital. What I realized is that in our “eternal why’s” what we are really seeking is control. Looking at the responses we see that transition is not just a way of adjusting, it is a way of regaining control. We always want to be in control of the transition that occurs in our lives. Here is what lead me to this conclusion:
Wednesday night I was spending time with my friends. One of them busted out her acoustic guitar and started playing hymns (you should see what we do on a Friday night!). In my heart was a restlessness that has always been present when I am with these friends. We are always transitioning and it is clear when we are together that it will never be for long before one of us has to go again. In the moments that we do share I often feel complete, whole, and peaceful, until I remember that these are only moments that will pass quite quickly. 
In our improvised concert we sang Hymn 849 (LSB) Praise The One Who Breaks the Darkness. In that song I was reminded that our whole lives are to be transitional. Not transitional as in something happens and we respond, but transitional in that something DID happen and therefor we are changed. Christ is the constant that we cling to in a world that throws so much at us to respond to. Christ is our game changer, our Healer, Comforter, King of Peace, and Chain breaker. When we ask “Why” of God like Job did, there isn’t anything wrong with that. What we need to realize is that the moments of transition are never so big that God aborts ship. He is right there with us. His transitions are far bigger than our own and He invites us to transition by being changed into a new Creation in HIM. Eyer writes in his book “Theology of the Cross” on how it is in our suffering that we understand to look for Christ instead of question Christ. If we didn’t recognize Christ in those moments of transition we missed the point. 
While is saddened me to reflect on the brevity of time I was to share with my friends I was reminded that just as our voices were joined as one in that wonderful hymn of reassurance, hope, and restoration, our voices would One Day be rejoined in songs of praise to The One Who Breaks the Darkness. We are liberated by the transitions that Christ offers. He gives us new for old, and frees us of the bondage of this worlds transitions. He offers the promise of fellowship with friends, a secure home in heaven, wholeness in our bodies, and a reunion with our loved ones. All the troubles this wold leave us lingering in and worried about will be wiped away for a new Glory, we wait for that day, for the GLORIOUS TRANSITION of one world to the next where we will all be made one, once and for all. 
1 Praise the One who break the darkness
With a liberating light;
Praise the One who frees the pris'ners
Turning blindness into sight.
Praise the One who preached the Gospel,
Healing ev'ry dread disease,
Calming storms, and feeding thousands
With the very Bread of peace.
2 Praise the One who blessed the children
With a strong, yet gentle word;
Praise the One who drove out demons
With the piercing two-edged sword.
Praise the one who brings cool water
To the desert's burning sand;
From this Well comes living water
Quenching thirst in ev'ry land.
3 Let us praise the Word incarnate,
Christ, who suffered in our place.
Jesus died and rose victorious
That we may know God by grace.
Let us sing for joy and gladness,
Seeing what our God has done;
Let us praise the true Redeemer,
Praise the One who makes us one.

ONE MORE THING: My blog allows me to see where people are reading from and how many people read this. I just want to say to everyone who reads this; You have NO IDEA how thankful I am for YOU! It literally brings tears to my eyes when I see that even one person has taken the time and interest to read my little theological reflections. Some of you I know, some of you I will only know when we meet face to face in heaven, but as you can probably tell from my writings; I CAN'T WAIT FOR THAT DAY!!! Thank you so much for reading!!! I am humbled! -Katie Z

Friday, July 13, 2012


I have stooped to an all time low with this blog. This blog served me well while I was in England and now most of you know I am back in the States getting ready for the next part of my journey. The past few weeks have included a lot of packing and unpacking. Now begins a more daunting packing and unpacking. As I prepare to leave home once again and consider what it is that I will need for the journey I look at all I have collected along the way. My parents are trying to reduce the amount of stuff (to put it nicely) they have, in addition they are trying to help me out financially as I prepare to go to the Dominican Republic. Therefore they decided a garage sale would be a good idea. I agree! The process is exciting, and troubling at the same time. I have been going through my own boxes of stuff from the past 27 years. I really do mean the past 27 years too! Each box I open is a reminder of a few things:

1st - The things and stuff that have accumulated over the years
2nd- The amount of work attached to things
3rd- The binding and loosing we find in being attached to things
4th- The memories we attach to things
5th- The things we attach to memories
6th- The childhood I thought I could put in a box
7th- The hopes and dreams of one day owning a home and having a family boxed up and put in storage

All the things that I have, I have allowed to serve as a map to who I was and who I want to be. I saved my dolls, toys, pillows, pictures, awards, pots, pans and anything and everything else you can think of. From cards yet to be written, to cards sent to me on my fifth birthday, I have saved so much stuff. What is more is the condition I have attempted to preserve it all in. All my dolls were returned to their boxes from which they came when I first packed them up ten years ago in Worms NE and decided it was time I grow up. I preserved a piece of my childhood for ten years without looking at it until just recently. Now as I unpack these boxes I am faced with my past, present and future. My past being the joy I found in collecting these porcelain dolls, toys figurines and anything and everything else. I can tell you who gave me each thing, where it came from, when I received it, and why I found it to be so special. I look at all my stiff and think about how I boxed it all up with the intention of perhaps either placing into a place of my own, my own home or giving them to the daughter I had hoped to have. Now, today I look at the same dolls bearing in mind that I have no child or prospective spouse, and I remember that I can't take them with me.

Most of this stuff I have not laid eyes upon for the past ten years, and yet I have held them as a person holds insurance. Knowing that they were in a box in the basement was good enough for me as a promise of what was and what is to be. Today I embrace a different truth and promise. As I reflect on "things" and "stuff" and "junk" and "boxes" of cardboard intended to lock and seal in my hopes dreams and expectations, I realized that it is as King Solomon said; "Nothing but a grasping after the wind." I am trying to solidify in my identity the fact that my home is not a place where I can take these collections with me, in heaven or on earth. I have been called into a mission where I am freed from the burden of things. It is both law and gospel. I can look at the boxes and know I have been blessed abundantly and cling to the promise that therein lies, God will continue to bless me, the evidence is not just in the box but in the intangible truths attached to those things. The reminder that there were several people who loved me and gifted me with the unnecessary luxuries of dolls and toys.

 I can also be freed from the things as I cling to the promise that whether or not I have a home, family, kids, spouse, the contents of the box does not insure this but the Gift Giver God! The God who has given me my body, soul, eyes ears and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still takes care of them. I can trust in HIM! I can cling to HIM and moth and rust cannot destroy that promise and my faith. It is also a promise I revisit on a daily basis given to me in baptism which I return to every day of my life until they place the pall over my casket. God is the author and perfecter of my faith that is not contained within cardboard boxes or things. He is not bound by my own limited dreams of owning a home and having 15 kids and being married to a strawberry/peach farmer (when I was a child I reasoned like a child and I loved strawberries, peaches and the idea of a big family- so there you go!).  God is taking me on a journey and blessed me along the way. Like my mother said as we were working on some of the boxes; "Katie, it isn't the things that matter, in the end it's the people" and I would also like to add, "it's also the Promise."

Okay so this may not be supporting the cause for which I initially wrote this but the whole point of this was to really inform everyone that I am selling my childhood. Or rather, I am having a garage sale to help with funding my mission in the DR. So if you are interested in supporting me by buying some of my old dreams in support of a new one then e-mail me for the address of this sale. Thanks to everyone for all your prayers and support thus far. The sale will be Aug 10th and 11th so if you have a college kid and you need stuff for them or you have a little girl and are looking early for Christmas or birthday gifts, or you collect dolls, or do crafts of any kind, or are looking for antiques or a good bargain, e-mail me and I will send the details of the sale to you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

So Thankful!!!

(This is my response to a facebook message my father sent me)
Dad, I know I have been given a gift, I tell myself that everyday. Everyday is a gift!
I'm thankful for:
The blessed day that I left and June arrived 

The day that I met Rabea at Luther hall and thought (Praise the Lord! It's a girl!)
My job at White Stuff and each and every girl (and boy) I worked with!!!
For every time I started chewing out Chris and realized "My goodness, I sound just like my mother"
For all that I have learned
Every day I realize "holy geez I'm in England"
Every trip I made to Germany where I insessently said "I really like it here!"
For Lidija and Boris and there Presence in Luther Hall and they way Boris would loudly say upon entering the kitchen "Awww... such Beautiful People!" and the way Lidija would quietly encourage me
I am thankful for Deaconess Rachel and her willingness to take time for me midst a crazy busy life as mother wife and worker
I'm thankful for Jean and his family and the reminder through him that sometimes we are blessed and sometimes we are blessed to share
For every visit I was able to make at the hospital that shaped and formed my perspective on life 
I'm thankful for every run that I am able to do in light of the visits I made at Addenbrookes
I'm really thankful for a trip to Deal that made me realize how much I love walking, and hiking
I'm thankful for the night I had my first interview for the D.R. and knew that this was what my future was going to be, and then went out to celebrate with Rabea until 2a.m. and got up early the next morning to travel to York
I'm thankful for my trip with Peter and Jeremy to Ireland 
I'm thankful for my trip to Germany with Mag, and later with Erik; which was always more than worth all the stress of getting there (hindrances include: questionable Mexican passport administered in Chicago and missed planes)
I'm thankful for every Finn joke from a certain Finn I know
I'm thankful for every nugget of knowledge given by my tutors and from Preceptor 
I'm thankful for all the girls that came through Luther Hall reminding me of how to be a lady midst the men (Blythe, Allison, Rabea, Fiona) 
I am thankful for all the allowance of personal indulgences (Justin)
I'm thankful for all the boyz that came through who appreciated me for my loving, nurturing personality, and oh yes my baking (Simeon, Israel and Mark- also my love of kittens!)
I'm thankful for the opportunity to have had so many people visit me while I was here (Deaconess Lumley, Stacey and Dan, Mom and Dad, I guess Jeremy and Peter too)
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have met professor Rosin and to learn from him
I'm thankful for Dan G's gentle willingness to do things without complaining, and his eagerness to contribute towards social events
I'm thankful for the wonderful warm smile and greeting I received every morning, afternoon, and evening from Jonathan!!!
I'm thankful for my African friends who put life in perspective and remind me of how wasteful I can be
I'm thankful for all the skype meetings I had with my friends, (Katelyn, Nicole, Nathan & Anna & ?, Stacey and co. and the rest of my Family, John, Julia, Frankie, Lucius and June Rose) 
I'm thankful for every post card and gift (Max and George, The Shaw family, Brian and Melissa, Kristi (a.k.a. The Keller's) Grandpa and Grandma, Rachel, Dianna, all of First Lutheran Church!)
I am so thankful I was able to go up Ben Nevis and feel like an outdoors extremist
I am thankful for every Greek lesson I had that felt like it was going nowhere
I am thankful for my Writings in Luther class that was so frustrating and still is as I try to write my last paper 
I am thankful for every event this past year that has been refiners fire for me
I am thankful for every beautiful flower that reminds me that I am not in Nebraska and every country song that reminds me of Nebraska 
I am thankful for every e-mail that comes in and reminds me how there are so many from Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana (Specifically St.John's Bingen) who are supporting me
I am thankful for every Facebook post that reminds me of the wonderful friends and family I have
I am thankful for EVERYBODY who has committed to supporting me for the next two years in the DR
Just in case there was anybody I forgot: I'm thankful for YOU (This one was added not for my dad but you all who are reading this!)
I am thankful for so much! Most of all I am thankful that God has made me thankful! I am thankful that I can look back and be thankful, and also look forward and be thankful. I couldn't do that four years ago. I am so happy to be coming home knowing that my time here has been a gift, and my time to come will be a gift until I reap the ultimate gift! So... YES DAD! Happy Father's day, and thank you for reminding me to be thankful not just for you (my father) but for everything my heavenly Father has given me this past year, and will give me in the years to come!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A great Collision 30 hours of movement:

10 hours to get to Corpach Scotland
10 hours to hike up the tallest Mountain in all of England (Ben Nevis)
10 hours to get home to Cambridge England

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was this past weekend offering students a four day weekend. For me there was a great collision of events beginning with a hospital visit on Friday where I had a conversation with an elderly man. He shared his life story with me which ended in tears. His wife had passed away less than a month ago and he expressed to me that he didn’t see a point in continuing with life. He said “Life will be fine, but it just isn’t going to be as good as it once was with her.” He later expressed a desire to die. 

Ironically, I was assigned to write a paper for an ethics course on euthanasia, not the lightest of topics. In the collision of events beginning with this encounter I have had several epiphanies, and a jubilee of my own (of the jewish sort). A few months ago my parents as a generous birthday gift purchased a rail pass. I spent a month trying to decide how I was going to use this gift. After some research I decided I was going to go to Corpach/Fort William and climb the tallest mountain in all of England; Ben Nevis. 
In this journey I had ten hours of travel time that I used to work on the earlier mentioned paper. So what do we really think of euthanasia? I must admit before meeting the man I mentioned earlier I would say I was adamantly against euthanasia. My empathy however took over as I visited with him and I thought; “I wish I could stop his pain.” Not that I wished him death, but only that I wished for what he wished for and in that moment it was death. Upon reflecting and thinking on my paper I wrestled with the idea of “Is it okay to exit this life when the pain is so great and the burden so heavy and the promise of eternal life is so much more appealing in the midst of pain?” 

My conclusion:

Ten hours up the side of Ben Nevis. My legs were shaking, my feet hurt, my hips were sore, my stomach hurt and I was nauseas all day from the intense physical activity. My climb only consisted of 10 more minutes to get to the summit and each glance upward felt no closer to the summit than the one before. There were combating dialogs going on in my head: “I’m never going to make it” “One rock at a time, just keep moving” “I was crazy to think I could do this” “Your committed now, you can’t turn back. You Can Do this!” “I’m going to die, I just know it” “One foot in front of the other, you are the one in control! Don’t just tell your body what to do, make it do it!” 
When I made it to the summit, it was not at all what I thought it would be. It was almost surreal, as if the summit was real but the idea was driving me more than the reality of it was. The summit itself held nothing for me, the journey did. The journey made the summit a place of victory (I am reminded of what my father often says; “It isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey”).
I reached that summit with my legs shaking, and stomach all tied up and my lungs hurting. There wasn’t any sort of fanfare for me and yet, from that moment of being on top, there was no other place to look except where I had been. I had taken the climb and enjoyed various perspectives of the Mountain that others wouldn’t have seen climbing up the path. Looking back, it wasn’t about the summit at all, it was the climb. 
I’m not saying that life means more than the eternal life that God offers us through his Son. Rather I am saying that in those moments of trial, in those moments when we want to give up; don’t! Even when it seems like the future holds no point or meaning, press on! God never fails, his promises are new every morning! His faithfulness endures forever. Know that God is present in pain. Know that while it may seem as though there is no purpose in the pain, it doesn’t matter because there is a summit, it is there even if you can’t see it. If you need a goal, fix your eyes on the summit, otherwise enjoy the climb.The promise of eternal life is there, it isn’t moving and in the face of loss grief, pain and suffering it will still remain. We cling to that! Not to the present sufferings, but to the future glory that God has promised! Fight the good fight! Finish the race! This is the conclusion I have come to: In my final hour, when I wish for death, I will continue to live because it is a promise of the life I have been given and will be given. I will take one stone at a time, one foot in front of the other knowing that God is the one in control and that he has already promised me life even in my dying, and what is more is that he is with me in that journey. 

My dear family and friends, Thank you so much for all your prayers and support! I think of all of you very often. My journey here in England is nearing an end and a new journey is about to begin. I will miss many of you, and many of you I am excited to see again. Please never stop praying!

Philippians 1:3-4 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy

Saturday, May 12, 2012

From Rain to Shine

My Dear family and friends!!!
I just received some very exciting news! My internship for the past two weeks has been pending and the official word just came through! The service in the Lord which has been given for my internship is a two year internship. Wait for it.... I have to build it up. 
The last two weeks have been especially cold and rainy for entering into the beginnings of summer. As I waited the official announcement of my internship there was this feeling of expectant hope. I have known since February where my internship was to tentatively be but I wan not ready to tell anyone just in case something were to come up. It is funny how much of our lives reflect the ultimate hope in which we expectantly wait for. We have it now, but not yet! The kingdom is ours right now, but not yet. My internship was mine, but not yet. I view this as a HUGE gift from God!!! 
While I expectantly waited for the official stamp of approval for my internship I contemplated what this internship would mean for me and my relationship with all of you, and with my family, and more importantly with my God. As a deaconess, we are presented with internship offers to choose from, assuming there are enough internship offers out there to offer. The first offer I received I panicked because my greatest fear, and biggest dream were realized all at once. The fear being the separation from family by miles, and the dream being to enter into the mission field. After I had time to think and talk with my father I came to the realization that no mater where I go there will always be a divide of miles between my family and I. The second realization I came to was that no matter how far I go, and no matter how long I am away, even if I were to never get to see my family again, I enter into a work that promises I will see them again. Not just for little visits and for special holidays, but for eternity! This world is temporal and the fact that I am allowed to serve the very Apha and Omega, who promises eternity is an honor and a privilege. Home has become wherever my God takes me. For twenty five years home was wherever my family went and last year it was a little further in the rainy land of Fort Wayne. This year it was even farther to the rainy places of England, but next year I am pleased to say it will be a little closer and a lot more sunny. 
Right now I wait for the cold April and May showers to give way to bright sunshine. Next year I am promised more than enough sunshine to make up for the lack of it here in England. My deaconess internship (drum roll please......) will be a two year internship in the Dominican Republic. I will be working with LCMS World Mission and the team stationed there. There are several locations and areas I have potential to serve in. From what I understand thus far, the mission in the DR is connected with Bethesda. This means they work with children with disabilities and their parents to help them better care for their children. I will also be given the task of teaching theology to the women of the DR. This will be a two year internship because one year is needed to learn the language. Please pray for me!!! I must say the idea of teaching theology in Spanish is a little intimidating as theology in English is a foreign language in itself. I know your love and support go with me and I am so grateful to have you all as my family (additional shout out to all those of First Lutheran in Papillion NE!)  I look forward to telling you more about the work I will be doing as I find more out about it.    

For now the work assigned before I am able to go is to tell everyone about what I will be doing and to raise support in the mission. If you presently feel so inclined to support me in the next two years to come then here are some details for offering financial support. I however in this moment really appreciate your prayers as I prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically to move to the D.R. Thank you all so much for any and all the support you have given me, I have never felt alone in this process!

To support this mission: 
make checks payable to LCMS International Mission. On the memo line of the check include "Support Kathryn Ziegler - 69304
Mail gifts to:

Missionary Support
LCMS Mission Advancement
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
St. Louis, MO 63122

Sunday, April 22, 2012

All the pretty Churches

I went through some of my pictures that I have taken in my time here in Cambridge. It is hard to believe that in a little while I will know for sure where my placement for internship will be (pray for me!) and my year of study here will be over. It has been quite an adventure. I have learned so much! As I looked over my pictures I noticed that most of my pictures were of one thing, that being churches. I have taken to capturing pictures of the grand churches here in Europe. In fact I have found that when I visit places the first thing I want to do is to see the churches. It makes me think of several things. First, where I have come from (referencing my baptism) second, where I am going (that being heaven) third, who I am presently connected to, (that being you, and the whole body of believers connected in Christ). So the common thread that I find in all that is; (drum roll please!......the good old Sunday school answer....) JESUS! I think it is interesting that I have gone looking for Jesus in Europe, and in big gaudy churches in Europe. Granted Jesus doesn't dwell in brick and mortar, my search for Jesus in these churches has only solidified for me where he really is; with you! Sure, Jesus can be seen in the grand windows, and beautiful mosaics and all that communicates Him and His work at the cross but more importantly, He does not reside there. He takes dwelling with all of us, even past the church. We are the church!

There is a certain sense of amusement when I pay a small contribution in order to pass the gift shop of an old church and enter into the place where God offers his richest gifts of forgiveness of sins, and new life. The irony! This beautiful place that once was a beloved home to pious people of the faith has now turned into a money chamber, or museum of what once was important. It has become a place where people come and gawk at a bit of history, and which history do they gawk at? Is it the history from the point of the ground breaking for the church that they paid 10 euros to look at? Perhaps it is the history of the book that is upon the altar that the building was first erected for? To me it is amazing that no matter where the tourists stand with God, their very presence in that moment is an act of worship. People have come to explore a bit of history that is connected not only to the history of the past, but is a history offered to each individual to own as their own history of salvation. In addition (as was the case with Westminster Abby) so many people are willing to go through the motions of a worship service in order that they may enter into the church for free and see the place where His glory dwells. This experience brought to light the whole reality for me that is found in the verse:

Philippians 2:10-11

New King James Version (NKJV)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christis Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God is so amazing that he would not make himself known through the stone walls of churches and the glass windows of ancient historical churches, but through his son. The very light of the world, Who one day will be confessed all over the world by believers and unbelievers alike and not for selfish gain and pictures but because everyone will be made acutely aware of where they came from, where they are going, and who held them in every moment of their life even when they did not want to be held. It is a powerful and intimidating thought to think of that last hour when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, because it is in that hour that we will realize the foolishness of our buildings used to contain God and our wanderings to find Him. God cannot be contained, His story, His Son, His grace mercy and peace has been bestowed upon us and not the works of our hands, but the work of his son. He makes us His dwelling place and we wait for that day that is arriving when God shall walk with us as a man walks with his friend.