Thursday, May 29, 2014


Today I awoke in the apartment of a friend who I became connected with in one of the strangest and most beautiful ways. I met her in another country at a conference for a few days. We clicked and she later came and visited me in the Dominican Republic, and last night she opened her home up to two traveling missionaries(a.k.a. me and one other missionary). It was a very brief stay, and even though our periods of being together have often been brief, it is as if we have known each other all our lives, and there is always the assurance that we will see each other again. This week, I have said, “goodbye” to many friends. Not for the first time, but nonetheless it has still been very difficult. Today I also had to say, “goodbye” to a fellow missionary who I had been traveling with since we left the Dominican Republic. While I know I will see her again, the weight of the farewell hit me as I was driving away. There is never a doubt that I will see these friends again but there is a pain within me every time the reality of “goodbyes” and “farewells” sink in.
 While as Christians we share the hope of a glorious reunion in heaven, it doesn’t change the fact that while we live in these broken bodies here on earth, we will continually face the partings of friends and families. I must admit that I thought with time they would get easier. But as fatality has made itself known in saying farewell to friends and family, the reality of goodbyes becomes tinged with a bit of morbidity. I am also beginning to realize that the more I open up and love the deeper the pain of partings becomes. In the midst of all these goodbyes I was reminded today of a great “goodbye” that the disciples endured. 
In celebrating the ascension today I reflected on the connection between my own “farewell’s” and those of the disciples. In my journey home today I kept thinking; “How many more times am I going to have to endure this?” Obviously; as long as I continue to open myself up to others, it will go on for as long as I live, until that day when others will be saying “goodbye” to me. The idea of this left me empty, with a sense of there being a bottomless pit and a sensation of endless falling. “How long!? How many more goodbyes? How many more heartbreaks?” Then I thought about the disciples. What a strange, sad parting the ascension must have been. Sure, there would have been joy at knowing that their Redeemer lives and because their Redeemer lives they too would live again. However, wasn’t the blood bath in which they initially said “goodbye” as their rabbi and teacher was taken from their presence enough? Now they had to do it again. Now they had to watch Him be taken from them again. Now they had to discover how to move forward without their great teacher present. Perhaps they wondered how real the past forty days were. If they had in fact lived it and not just woken from a very long dream. Now, they had to start all over again; but not without a helper. This same helper comes to us and binds us all together in our baptism. He makes us One and promises us a joyful reunion in heaven for each of the faithful who die within the grace of God. We ourselves and the disciples have hope, and while we may be cleaved for a time from one another, we are never without hope. We have Christ and all His promises and truths that He gives us in His word. So in the midst of cleaving, we can cling to the cross and remember all we have received one for all in the sacrifice of Christ. We now have fellowship not only with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt, but with all the company of heaven. So, the more painful partings we endure in this earth give way to a greater joy of many more joyful reunions.   

John 14:18
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Don’t look back....don’t even look at the clock

When I was in high-school I had an uncle who had schizophrenia. He would do things that didn’t always make sense to the considerably sane mind. One Christmas when I was in high-school he gave me an expensive bottle of perfume. Being the sensible girl that I am I took it back the store that he got it from and exchanged it for a really nice watch. He called me up a week later and asked me how I liked the perfume, I looked I my watch and said; “Oh, I like it!” 
A year later for my birthday I asked for a cell phone. I got my first cell phone my senior year of high-school (yep...I was ruined) it was a little brick. The first official call I got was from my father. I excitedly answered and he said; “Katie! Is your sister there?” I said with gaiety at having received my first phone call, “well she is driving, why don’t you just talk to me!” He said, “Well, you guys need to go to your grandmothers house, your uncle Bill has died” What a first phone call! The same uncle who gave me the “perfume/ watch.” That summer a day before entering into college the battery on the watch died. 
I used that watch all through culinary school. I would take it off and thread it through the button hole on my chefs coat to keep track of time on breads, tasks, and competition projects. Other days I would take it off and thread it through my tank top strap or my shoe laces so I could go for a run. After Culinary school My grandmother died and so did the battery in my watch. I changed the battery and went on to another track in life. I went to Concordia Seward to study to become a deaconess. I bought a bike! (No that isn’t an A.D.D. joke!) I would take my watch off and attach it to the handle bars to avoid a tan line. 
I distinctly remember driving to Fort Wayne and passing a Wal-Mart on the highway when my watch stopped. I was keeping close track of time so that I arrived at “The Fort” on time. I pulled over to take a quick break and change the battery. I took it to the jewelry counter and the kind lady played around with it and pushed the lever inward and it started again! We both had a good laugh about it. My bad...I just had it in my head that this thing goes out whenever I am making major life changes. The next day, I woke up in my own room in Fort Wayne Indiana with a massive Theological journey ahead of me and a dead battery in my watch. I took it to a special battery place, they offered for only $15 a lifetime security that said they would replace the battery in my watch for free (apart from the $15 payment) for the life of the watch. I inquired of the various locations of this special battery place and declined the offer and decided to just pay the $5 to have the battery replaced. I was on my way with a fully functioning watch. The following summer I did what I call “Watch watching.” I was in a job that caused me to constantly look at my watch and wait and hope for the next break, or better yet, for when I would be free (you know you have been there!). 
I used that same watch to calculate the time difference between New England and NE, and when it would be appropriate to call my friends on Skype. I got into another “Watch watching” job in England, and then I got into Chaplaincy where I divided the hands on my watch between “tea time” “visiting hours” “team meetings” and “charting.” That summer I went home with a new future before me. The battery died. I changed it, and went on my merry way. 
That watch sits on my desk now, may she rest in peace. Last Christmas I got very ill and I had to go to the doctor in the Dominican. I had to have an x-ray taken and went into a tiny room with a technician, he shoved me into a bathroom no bigger than a tiny closet and asked me to take off anything with metal; there went my watch. I dropped it on the floor and the glass cracked and the hands just twitched like a dead cockroach (a little ironic). There are so many little battery places on the streets of Santiago that I took it to one of the little street vendors. The kind sir fixed it for 50 pesos (a little more than 1 USD) and said if it stopped working to bring it back to him. Well...for it to “stop working” it would have had to worked properly in the first place. 
I decided to give my watch the dignity of an honorable discharge and put it on the shelf. I tried to replace it with another watch that only lasted a week. I gave up time. I gave up tracking time. I gave up placing significance on the death of a battery and decided the time is now! Our lives are changing every day. By the grace of God, I face a new adventure every day that my watch couldn’t even keep track of. I would be replacing batteries everyday were there merit in my theory. I discovered that my one eye on the past and one on my watch was no longer working. I was given the grace of a broken watch so that I would stop looking down and start looking up. Now the clock just is in my life, it is not my life. Now time is only an idea not a lord. Sometimes the things my uncle did, didn’t make sense, but he taught me something very precious in the bottle of expensive perfume that he gave me. Sometimes stopping and smelling the roses should not be exchanged for sensibility. Time runs out, batteries die, and in the end what was it all for? The woman who washed Jesus feet understood the urgency of sharing in a beautiful thing. With a broken watch and a lesson hard learned over the past 12 years, I press on knowing that what we have been given is this moment, and this day to be used for the glory and the honor of the One who gave up everything for a time to save us for eternity! 

Mark 14:7-9

New King James Version (NKJV)
For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”