Friday, April 5, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Katie Alley

This friend, y'all, she is a gem if I have ever known one. I first met Katie when I was an intern at Timber Wolf and she was on Summer Staff. We did not really get to know one another at all during her month there, but I do remember thinking she was real cool... and boy was I right. I was really excited when I found out that Katie would be interning with me my second summer at Timber Wolf. The best thing I can think to write about Katie is that she is simply wonderful. She really is. I remember one of the first nights that we were together this summer staying up late in the Swamp (where we live, cute name, right?) just talking about her experiences with YWAM and her heart for the girls in the sex trafficking industry of Thailand. Listening to Katie talk I was blown away by how much she loved Jesus and how much I saw Him in her. My heart broke for her as I heard her explain how parts of her own heart were left in those places with those girls. I am forever thankful for Katie and the way she loves, so deeply and so passionately. I am thankful for the summer that we spent together and all that she taught me. 

We played at the zoo together and I knew Katie would be a forever friend.

Katie wore this on our Intern Date Night. Tell me she isn't awesome... if you did, you would be lying.

Katie has been one of the biggest encouragements to me since I started this blog. I always feel so loved by her responses to my posts and am so honored that she agreed to write a post for the blog. Katie has her own blog called converse sneaker and it's absolutely delightful; I encourage you to check it out. This post reveals a huge part of her heart and my prayer is that you are blessed by her honesty. And let's all be reminded: our Creator is making all things new.


I was so excited when Jordan asked me to share on the blog today. The Lord has taught me so much this year. It has been a transition year for me; coming back to Calvin College after a year away with YWAM. 

I absolutely loved my time with YWAM and followed that with a summer at Timberwolf Lake. For a total of 9 months I was surrounded by people who passionately loved Jesus and desired to know Him more. I loved being away from the pressures of school and the overwhelming life at Calvin. Both YWAM and interning at Timberwolf were such life-giving experiences and I felt like I was truly thriving. As the end of the summer came closer and closer I was TERRIFIED of returning to school. 

I literally cried every day about it. 

September rolled around and there was no time for thinking, I just hit the ground running. And now it’s April. I am almost done with this freaky year back.

This year I have been lonely, frustrated, confused, and honestly, a little bitter. When the Lord called me back to school I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t think it would be THIS hard. So often this year I have felt small and weary. I have felt like I was suffocating. The thought of one more year at this place made, and sometimes still makes, me want to curl up in a fetal position and cry.

In my mind there was no way that I could feel alive at Calvin. Everything about school sucks the life out of me: endless hours in the library, staying up til 4 in the morning to write a paper, fighting sleep in the middle of a lecture, doing life alone. I’d be happy if I simply survived another year, there was no thought given to thriving.

And then Easter happened. I was reminded that my Redeemer is ALIVE and makes all things new and beautiful. Jesus spoke something to me. He said, “Katie, I give life. I am life. You can let this season kill you, or let me bring you to life.” 

I was confused at first. 

How was I supposed to find life in this season? All I do is go to class, study at the library, and maintain a salad bar at work. It’s boring. And at the same time so busy and overwhelming. But I’m supposed to come to life? But Jesus, I am DYING! GET ME OUT OF HERE! My circumstances felt too big. I needed to learn to look beyond them. I needed to let Jesus be at the center, instead of tossed in when time allowed.

What I am realizing is that when I don’t focus my heart and mind on the life giver, my circumstances kill me. 

Life is found in my orientation, not my circumstances. When I am oriented to the Risen Savior, I am alive. 

I’m a natural pessimist. It’s much easier for my brain to think of all the sucky parts of a situation, than focus on the positive. I view school as a necessary evil, rather than an opportunity to grow. I view the library as a torture chamber instead of a convenient place to study and learn. I view work as a mind numbing three hours a day with people I have an inability to converse with instead of an easy way to make money and get to know some quirky, fun individuals. 

It’s my own brain, my own thoughts, that kill me! When I see the positive and see all these little, seemingly mundane events as gifts from Jesus, I come to life. 

If I had to describe this year back at Calvin in one word, it would be lonely. So many hours have been spent sitting on my futon wishing some sweet friend were sitting right next to me, just so I wasn’t by myself. 

It has been hard. And I’ve cried about it. But I have learned that in those moments alone, I can most clearly hear the Lord speak. And isn’t that what this journey is about? Hearing the sweet voice of the Savior speaking, leading, guiding, encouraging, and shaping? 

I’m not saying that I have learned to totally love my hours of loneliness – but I have heard Jesus speak so much this year. And friends, His words give life! Jesus is the word and Jesus is very much alive. 

It is easy to let ourselves run ourselves down. It is easy to let life overwhelm us. It is easy to let anxiety, stress, and fear get in the way of seeing Jesus. But He is ever present. His eyes are always on us, watching us, delighting in us, breathing life into our weary souls. 

And He is in the business of making all things new, beautiful and alive.

I pray for you that whatever season you find yourself walking through, you let our Jesus bring you to life. May you know the deep joy of serving a God who is very much alive. 

And if you are like me and need a song to help you remember these truths, then do yourself a favor and check out this one:

Happy Spring time, friends.

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