From Tupperware to Table

Hardly anything from my day to day life looks the same as it did a year ago.  A year ago, I lived a busy, fast paced life. I woke up early, went to bed late, and crammed in as much life as I could in between. I worked a high pressure job in a software company that was growing at a rapid rate. I sat in traffic a lot.  I meal prepped every meal for the week ahead of time. I served in a lot of ministries at church. I did a lot of discipleship. My calendar was jam packed, and I often had to schedule myself time to do menial things like laundry of grocery shopping. I woke up super early just to squeeze in time with God and His Word.  My life was consistently on the go. And for a Type-A, get stuff done, task-oriented person, I loved this season of life. I really did. I thrived in moving quickly and achieving high levels of productivity. I jokingly refer to that season of my life as the “tupperware” season – always looking for efficiency, and also, because I ate 95% of my meals out of tupperware containers.

Then I had a baby.

Nothing will hijack your life like birthing a seven pound human. I cannot even accurately begin to explain the dramatic life alteration that happens, but everyone who has had a baby knows it all too well. You hardly know what day it is, much less the actual time.  Your life becomes a cycle of three hours, over and over again – eat, wake, sleep. Again and again.

Once the dust settled and I began to feel like a normal human again (which took a solid three months), I quickly realized my life was not going back to the way it was before.  I’m still working, but from home, and part time. I’m still serving in ministry at my church, but less of it. I’m still engaged in discipleship relationships, but fewer of them.  Life is run less by appointments on my calendar, and more by inner intuition. My life has been forcibly slowed down, and bears little resemblance to what it was a year ago. And I’m loving it.

I’m learning that productivity and efficiency, as much as I love them,  are not the most important things in life. Relationships are; relationship with God first, then relationships with others following. I am learning the value of sitting on my back porch with my baby, watching the squirrels chase each other, and daily walks to the neighborhood park. I am loving the discipline of waking up before the sun in the wee hours of the morning to sneak away to Panera, and sip on coffee and spend time with God there.  I love inviting people over just because, for no other reason than we love and value them, and want to spend time with them. For the first time in our marriage, we are implementing nightly family dinners around the table, eating home-cooked food served on actual plates instead of tupperware. For that reason, I am calling this season of life my “table” season.

From tupperware to table, much in my life has changed.  Reflecting back on the past year, I realize that nearly all of my external circumstances have shifted, but I have not.  Sure, I have grown and developed in some ways, but the core of who I am as a person is exactly the same. I am just a girl who loves God, and is making the great ambition of my life to know and love Him.  I have learned that what I do does not define me. My role as a wife and mother, my job, my ministries, and my daily schedule do not label my identity. They surely could if I let them, and I know there are times when I allow it.  But more than any of the good things or “titles” of my life, I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus. That will never change.

As much am I am loving the “table” season of my life right now, I recognize there will probably be seasons ahead that will look more like the “tupperware” phase.  And I am okay with that, even excited by that. God is teaching me to embrace where He has me, not envy another’s life, and to live in contentment of who I am because of who He is. Twenty years from now, my life will look different, but at the core it will always be the same, because my identity is secure and never shifting because of the steadfast love of God. How amazing is that?!

Until next time,

Katie

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Look at the Birds

I have a son who has been alive for 81 days. I feed him 8 times a day, which means I have fed him 648 times in his short span of life. Six hundred and forty eight times, and I have NEVER missed a feeding. Not once. Like clockwork, I feed my child and provide to fulfill exactly what he needs.  He has never once gone hungry or been without. And you know what’s funny? If I happen to take the bottle out of his mouth for more than four seconds, he starts screaming at the top of his lungs and gives me this pitiful “Mooooommmmm how could you abandon me?!” look. He forgets.  He forgets that I am his provider. He forgets that I will do exactly what I have promised.  He forgets the 648 times I have previously taken care of his needs, and thinks I will fail him on the 649th.

I have been alive for 9,834 days.  All nine thousand, eight hundred and thirty four days of my life, I have had a Provider who has taken care of all my needs.  Every single one of them.  He has never missed anything.  He has shown up every day, and every time.  He has never failed me.  And like my son, I forget.  I forget the 9,834 days behind me, and fear He will forget me on the 9,835th, that somehow His proven faithfulness will become void and no longer apply to me.

My son is teaching me about myself.  I see myself in him.  I often joke with him “do you really think I am going to leave you here to starve?” Of course not! I am his parent who loves him.  It is my joy to care for him.

In a moment of recent anxiety, I began to fear and doubt the Lord’s provision.  In the same moment of my doubt, I inaudibly heard Him say “have I ever not given you everything you need? Have I ever failed you?” I was immediately sobered, humbled, and repentant.

My love and provision for my son is an imperfect representation of God’s love and provision for me.  I am an imperfect provider and parent.  God is the perfect Provider and Father. He never misses and will always do what He has promised. Every time.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  -Matthew 6:26

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San Francisco Trip

Huge thanks to my in-laws, Steve and Darla, for gifting us with airfare and a hotel to San Francisco for a getaway trip before our baby arrives in May! I decided to channel my inner travel blogger to share tips and must sees in San Fran…(lol JUST KIDDING). Since my little blog has been neglected these days, I thought it would be fun to share some pictures from our trip.  Enjoy!

We hit up all the touristy stuff Day 1 – Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Ghiradelli Square, taking a boat tour…and my personal favorite, riding a cable car, which lived up to every ounce of  hype and expectation I put on it:

And of course, like any good tourist, we made sure to get as many shots and angles of ourselves with the Golden Gate bridge in the background as possible:

And went on a hunt to find any member of the Tanner family (no luck) but did find their house!

On Day 2, we went to Muir Woods, which is about 10 miles outside of San Francisco.  I wish pictures could do it justice. It was beautiful and majestic and felt like we were experiencing the glory of God’s creation.

Afterwards, we stopped by Stinson Beach, which was super deserted (aka the best way to visit a beach):

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Day 3 was my favorite. We took a ferry to Angel Island, and riding the ferry was enough entertainment on it’s own:

We looooooved Angel Island! There was hardly anyone there, and we had a blast hiking the mountain there (about 6 miles round trip).

And I can’t forget about the food! James has a classmate from DTS that lives in SF, and he reached out and asked to take us to dinner. He took us to eat at a delicious restaurant, then went above and beyond to give us a gift card for an ocean-side restaurant, which we went to the next night. Thank you, Karl!

 

Until next time, San Francisco!

2017: A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2017, I was convicted to challenge myself to live life engaged. I can be an avoider, and that typically comes out when things get difficult, confusing, or uncomfortable.  I realized how much I was missing out on by avoiding tension instead of embracing it, so I committed to myself to be engaged in the present, with whatever is happening, and experience it fully and head on.  With that being said, 2017 has been a year with a great amount of growth. As I look back, there’s so much to be grateful for! Here a few highlights:

Communal Living

For the first 3.5 years of our marriage, James and I lived by ourselves in an apartment, which was great and exactly what we needed at that time in our marriage,  This July, we moved into a rental house…right next door to some of our best friends…and to add to that, we also got two roommates! For an introvert like myself who values alone time, this sounds like a recipe for disaster, and I feared it would be, but it has turned out to be a huge blessing.  We literally ALWAYS have people in our house (sometimes I don’t even know them) and our house has become a hub for hospitality and ministry, and it is so fulfilling.  I love when my roommates have girls over for discipleship, or when James has 5 guys working out with him in our garage gym, or when we get to have neighbors over for dinner.  It is a revolving, open door, completely void of isolation, and I love it.

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Fighting the Good Fight

About a year ago, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. In line with my commitment to myself to live engaged, I promised to be there, good or bad, for as much of it as possible. This year has been full of ups and downs; way too many visits to MD Anderson in Houston, the complexities of chemo treatments, the long, drawn out uncertainty that comes with a terminal illness. Through it all, God has taught me to live daily, trusting Him, not to worry about the future, and to be thankful for the day He has given us.  Most of all, it has been so encouraging to see my Dad have hope in God.  He knows Him and trusts Him, and there is nothing that can shake that.  Also, he has only become more involved in ministry; serving as an elder at their church, passing out meals to the poor, leading the FCA ministry for their entire region, meeting with coaches for Bible study, and so much more.  He lives daily in an attitude of victory, along with surrender, and it is so hopeful to watch.  

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Oh yeah, a baby!  

On September 7th, those pink lines appeared and told us we were going to have a baby! I compare pregnancy to engagement; it is a season of waiting and preparing for a big event in your life, but having zero clue of what it will actually be like. I have also been fortunate to have the easiest pregnancy of all time, so I forget I’m even growing a human inside of me a lot of the time.  I love this season though – the anticipation of what is to come, but also savoring what is right now.  

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Church and Ministry Changes

In October of this year, James was voted in to serve as an elder for our church, which is a huge honor and responsibility.  With that has come the weightiness of overseeing the flock of God, which is no small calling.  I have loved watching him thrive in this – learning to trust God more, bearing the burdens of a church, and leading in a way that is honorable.  To add to that, he is also a full time teacher and a full time seminary student.  I always knew I married an extraordinary guy, but I have only become more convinced of that the past year.  He stewards his life well.  

Also, we successfully passed off the community group we shepherded for 3 years off to some of our best friends to lead so James could focus more on eldership.  It felt a little bit like giving up your favorite child for adoption, but it has been so fun to watch them own the group and lead in their giftings, which are completely different than ours.  

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All the People

I often say that the best parts of life are people, and I mean than sincerely.  We have some good people around us – amazing friends, family, and co-workers.  I’m sure there are fantastic people everywhere, but I am a little biased to think that we somehow snagged the best ones.  I could live in a shack with no income, but as long as I have good people around me, I’ll be happy.  I am a relationally driven person, and I thrive with good friendships, which I like to believe I have the best.

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Here’s to 2018!

Until next time,

Katie

About 10 minutes after I told one of my best friends, Catie, we were pregnant, she was already sending me ideas for a photo shoot.  If it weren’t for her, I probably would have just posted a picture of the pee stick to announce our upcoming baby, so I am incredibly thankful for a creative, generous friend who helps beautifully document fun times in our life! Check out more of her work at catiesasphotography.com. 

 

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Who was Epaphras?

Today I was sitting in Panera Bread preparing for a discipleship meeting, when I read the following verses:

“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” -Colossians 1:7-8

I was like “HOLD ON a second, who is Epaphras?!” I am no theologian, but I have read the Bible a time or two and this name has never stuck out to me.  I did a quick search on blueletterbible.com and learned that my new friend was listed a total of three times in the New Testament.  The first reference is above, and the second two below:

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” -Colossians 4:12

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you” Philemon 1:23

That’s it.  That’s all that is said about him.  However, based on these verses, we learn soooo much about a faithful disciple of Jesus.  Here’s what we can gather about Epaphras:

  • He taught the people at the church of Colossae. He taught them, according to the text leading up to Colossians 1:7-8:
    • The word of truth
    • The gospel
    • Understanding of the grace of God
  • He was a faithful minister of Christ
  • His ministry is on behalf of the people in the church of Colossae
  • He relayed the love the people had in the Spirit to the apostle Paul
  • He identified as a servant of Christ Jesus
  • He prays to God
  • He struggles in prayer – on behalf of his people – always!
    • He prays for their maturity
    • He prays for assurance in the will of God  
  • He has worked hard for the people at Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis
  • He co-labored with Paul
  • He was imprisoned with Paul for the sake of Christ

We don’t know the rest of his story – who or how he was arrested and imprisoned, if he died in prison, or if he was released and continued his ministry.  We don’t know anything else about him.  We don’t know how he got saved, or what the circumstances were leading up to his ministry.  What we do know, based on the Bible, is that this is an unsung hero of the faith.  He doesn’t get the fame that Paul has (rightly) received, but he is a faithful, humble hero.  He preached the gospel.  He built up the church.  He labored in prayer.  He loved his people.  He loved Jesus.

As I sat in Panera today with Hurricane Harvey roaring outside, and the electricity flickering off and on, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for faithful people like Epaphras.  Because of people like him, faithfully carrying out the message of Jesus, I, thousands of years later, know Jesus.  He is not famous, but he was faithful to the ministry God called him to.

There are tons of people just like Epaphras who we don’t know names of, but who have been faithful disciples of Jesus, and have passed his name on to generations behind them.  I want to be like Epaphras; there’s not much said about him, but what we do know is that he loved Jesus, and that legacy is continuing to live on. We are reaping the benefits of his faith.  That is so encouraging.  The only legacy that will last is one of passing on Jesus, through discipleship, laboring over one another in prayer, for the glory of God.  That is my greatest hope for my life.  Thank you, Epaphras, for being a great example. 

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Until next time,

Katie