Saturday, January 9, 2016

World Race Reflections - Abandon

January 7th, 2016, was the ten year anniversary of the start of the World Race.  It has been ten years now since we sold our house, ten years since we sold half our belongings and put the rest in storage, ten years since our steps of faith took us onto a plane and all the way around the world to serve God in new and unknown places.

Milestones are important to me, and the realization that ten years have passed has stirred up a myriad of memories.  I am planning to take some time over the next year reflecting and sharing what the trip has meant to me, now that the highs and lows of the trip have had the opportunity to mellow and marinate in the context of life back at home.
One of the most life-changing aspects of the trip took place before we even packed our bags.

It had been easy enough to complete the online application, but when it came time to click “submit”, I hesitated. Was I actually willing to go through with something like this? If we were accepted onto the trip, could I actually walk away from my home, my church family, my friends, for a year of the unknown? I had to ask myself, “Am I willing to say YES to God, no matter what He asks of me?” 

That was my moment of abandon, and in retrospect, I realize it was a turning point in my faith. The answer was yes. It had to be yes. Yes to God. Yes to faith. Yes to the unknown. At the time, I had no idea how high the cost of that abandon would eventually be (and, thank goodness for that). But neither did I have any idea how much peace and freedom I would ultimately experience by laying down my life into God's hands. 

I look back now upon multiple wrestling matches that I had had with God, knowing what He wanted of me and trying to decide how I would respond. Those little submissions were wretchedly painful! But once the question had been answered, once and for all, the need for wrestling ended and my soul flooded with peace. That is not to say I never struggle, but the question now is, “What is God's will?', more than, “How will I respond to what I know God is asking me to do?” 

A wise Christian woman once quipped to me, “God is not looking for committed Christians; He is looking for submitted Christians.” I don't know if God loves pithy quotes, but I do know that the more of myself I entrust to Him, the more freedom and joy I find in being fully myself – the me that He created me to be.  When the hard times come (and oh, they still do), I am assured that I am standing on a firm foundation, and not only that God wants to fulfill His plans and purpose in my life, but that I can be an active part of the process.  

Monday, December 31, 2012

Photoblog: 2012 in Review

A photographic look back at the year that was: 2012

Winter / Spring 2012

Photography continues to be my favorite creative endeavor, and I am loving the process of growing and improving in my art.  This past year, I continued to develop my photography skills, and enjoyed networking with local models and makeup artists.  I teamed up with Benicia and Imani to create the image below for a contest.  Radiant Cosmetics produces quality makeup and is actively working to fight human trafficking.  We were one of their chosen finalists and won a bunch of free lipsticks!  

I also partnered with Bella Vue, a boutique in downtown Sacramento, for several events.  They hosted a party for local fashion bloggers, and after taking several pics, I jumped at the chance to have my hair and makeup done to play model myself.  It is definitely weird for me to be on the other side of the camera!  I loved this dress so much that I ended up coming back for it!

In late winter, we reunited with friends for a weekend cabin getaway in Lake Tahoe.   The more time goes by, the more grateful I am for friendships that last the years.  Especially as they start having kids... wow.  It seems like just last year that we found out our friends were pregnant, and now their son is becoming a little man.  Their growing son and his buddy were the trailblazers on our hike down to Emerald Bay.  I love this innocent moment of childhood friendship: 

Summer 2012

Hiking and camping are among our favorite activities (they also happen to pair well with photography), and we are always trying to plan out our next trip to the great outdoors.  This year's big trip was a weeklong camping trip to Yosemite National Park.  It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and home to my favorite hiking trails.

We were joined by my mom and a few special friends.  Highlights included deepening great friendships, seeing a bear, snagging a private constellation tour with a ranger, watching Christina invent new ways to make coffee, celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary, and climbing to the top of the world! 

This summer was also special to me, as I was asked to display my photography in my first art show.  RAW: natural born artists hosts nationwide events to promote local artists, and I was selected to share my photography.  Instead of selecting from images I already had, I decided to shoot a series specifically for the show.  It was a huuuuuuge project to accomplish in a short amount of time, but with the help of creative and devoted friends we pulled it off.  I was beyond happy with the outcome.  I loved the final images and felt that the display represented me well as an artist.  I am already scheming what I would like to do for my next personal project...

The summer was also the time to celebrate a great milestone - Gary's graduation from seminary!  He started taking classes at Western Seminary in 2001, to expand his biblical knowledge after we had started leading small groups for youth and adults at our church.  He started out one class at a time, and had to take a year off during our around-the-world mission trip.  He persevered though, and was finally able to complete his Masters of Divinity Degree. I am so proud of him for his accomplishment!

Last but not least, the end of the summer brought the realization that we would be moving into a new chapter of our lives in more ways than one: I learned that I was pregnant!  We are expecting a little baby boy to join our family in May 2013!  We are so very delighted and are really enjoying this time of expectation.  After 13 years of being just the two of us, it feels very surreal to imagine how drastically life will change in just a few short months.  In so many ways, though, the timing seems so very specific as to prove to us that God has a plan for this special little life.  Pregnancy has definitely been an exercise in learning to slow down (which I have been pretty good about embracing) and trust God (this has been more challenging than I expected).  All in all, though, it's been a great experience, and we are looking forward to parenthood with all of our hearts.


Each Halloween, we host an annual Candy Poker Night.  It's a good excuse to hang out with friends, play games, and eat too much candy.  Halloween falls 2 days after Gary's birthday, and 7 days before mine, so it's always a celebratory time of year.  We've carried on the tradition for at least ten years now (including the year we were in South Africa) and always enjoy welcoming new faces to the mix.  I'm pretty sure that no one has ever won twice!  Molly was this year's poker champ, and if we'd had a costume contest, she would have won that too.  She had the best peacock costume I've ever seen (it may be hard to see in this picture, but she has wings glued to her back)!

This year's Thanksgiving was bittersweet, as it was the first time that Gary and I spent the holiday apart.  His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Gary went to southern California to see her
through a surgical procedure.  The surgery was right before turkey day, so he stayed to help and share Thanksgiving with her.  Fortunately, my mom and dad had planned to come up, so I was still able to enjoy some good family time.  I am pleased to announce that my turkey recipe is evolving nicely, and that I didn't forget to defrost the turkey (although how could I, since my parents make a point of reminding me EVERY YEAR about that ONE TIME!)!

After eating way too much, and playing too many games of Settlers of Catan, my mom helped me bring in our Christmas boxes and we set up the tree.  I was very thankful for the help, because lifting and reaching tasks have become a bit more, uh, challenging lately!  I have kept my promise to not inundate Facebook with pictures of my pregnant self, but couldn't resist including one for the blog.  This is me about 3 1/2 months along! 

All in all, I count myself blessed.  I have an amazing husband, a sweet baby on the way, friends and family that enrich my life, and a job and hobby that I love.  Life has its frustrations and heartbreaks, but the happy memories are what I want to remember, and the blessings are what I want to hold on to.  2012 has been memorable, and I expect 2013 will be even more so!  I am thankful that you are a part of my life and I pray that God blesses you richly in 2013 with an abundance of His joy.

Katherine  =)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year in Pictures: 2011

As the year winds to a close, I love to take a look back and remember the people, places and celebrations that have made life so amazing! Here is a visual trip down memory lane...


The past year and a half or so, I have been doing a ton of photo shoots for practice, fun, and now, my business. For Christmas 2010, I received a new lens for my Canon Rebel and was eager to try it out. The young lady in this photo is "Artemis", an enthusiastic and motivated model who has collaborated with me on many of shoots. For this shoot in particular, I borrowed multiple outfits from a Bay area boutique so that we could do our first fashion shoot together. Everything was going well until I realized I locked my keys in the car... while waiting for AAA to arrive, we decided to snap a few closeups! The rest of the day went on without further incident. We ended up shooting five outfits in six hours, in forty degree weather. Artemis never complained once! Did I mention she was enthusiastic (and possibly Alaskan)?


In February, I was lucky enough to be one of the photographers at Sacramento Fashion Week. The event was one of my highlights of the year! I met so many talented people and got to enjoy the glamor of runway designer fashion, up close and personal. This shot was taken backstage on the first night. Models everywhere were getting their hair and makeup done, touchups, getting fitted, dressed and donning their accessories. You'd be surprised how many were actually sewn into their garments, a la Olivia Newton John in Grease! And yes, for some that meant having butterflies sewn onto them. One of the side benefits of hanging with the models is picking up tips such as "to keep from falling down on the runway, spray hairspray on the bottom of your nylons so that your feet don't slip in your shoes." And now you know.


At the end of March, Gary and I kicked off the start of camping season and headed to Mendocino for a glorious get away weekend. The California coast is truly one of the natural treasures of the world! Gary and I both find our time in nature to be so refreshing, enjoyable and encouraging.


This is one of my favorite shots from a photo shoot with an aspiring model / musician named Jvion. I can be a bit apprehensive about shooting with male models, as (being a girl, myself) I don't feel I can provide much direction or insight about how to look manly in a photo! Maybe I should take up reading men's fashion magazines??? No worries with Jvion. He has a great personality and always has lots of ideas to incorporate into a photo shoot, including his experience in martial arts.


This image is from my first shoot with an agency model, Brian Francis from City Model Management, at the Vizcaya in downtown Sacramento. Have I mentioned that my year was full of photo shoots?


This bunch of special folks is the first small group that Gary and I participated in at Gateway Fellowship, before launching the one that we now lead. We were celebrating the very special occasion of Jim's 96th birthday! Jim is one of those people that within a short time became one of my favorite people in the whole world. I'm looking forward to celebrating his #97!


In July, I participated in a photo shoot at The Old Sugar Mill, a unique place in the Sacramento area. I snapped this pic which was eventually published in N Magazine as a finalist in their annual photo contest.


In August, we hosted a reunion BBQ for our friends from Jacob's Well, the special church plant that ran a couple of years when we first married and moved to Sacramento. This picture is us with a few of the youth that must have been about 11 or 12 when we started up the youth group back in the day! What a blessing to see them blossoming into amazing young adults.


On September 3rd, 2011, dreams came true when Gary's brother (known to many of you as "Bonus") married his sweetheart, Liz. I can't imagine a better, more well suited person for Bonus to spend his life with, and I am thrilled to call Liz not only friend, but sister!


Yep, our little Shih Tzu Billy is still amusing us with his antics. He's ancient now (11? 12?) but still finding new perches from which to observe the world around him. Life's tough when you're only eight inches tall! I usually find him curled up on some kind of cushion/blanket/pillow, but on this day in October he showed off a new preferred role: centerpiece!


We hosted Thanksgiving in Sacramento this year, and part of the weekend festivities were devoted to the creation of an application video to the Amazing Race! My husband and mother are hoping to take part as the first "in-law" team on the show! Wouldn't that be something? Keep your eyes peeled as they may be racing by you any day now!


Many thanks to my good friend Wendy St. Clair for taking some great portrait shots of Gary and I! Due to Gary and I both getting sick in December, we weren't able to get picture cards made up for family and friends, but now you can enjoy our cuteness right here on the blog! We've been married twelve and a half years now, and are just as in love as ever!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joy in Praying for Others

You’re making your way through the church lobby after a Sunday worship service when you see someone you know coming though the crowd in your direction. After you greet one another, your friend says, “I was hoping I’d catch you. I have a prayer request I want to share with you.”

What’s your reaction in that moment?

“Alright! It’s an opportunity to lift up someone’s need in prayer! This so totally ROCKS!”


“My prayer list is already too long… Let’s see if this request is important enough to make the cut.”


“I really care about this person, but I’m so busy right now. I really wish they’d have asked somebody else.”

Or if you’re like me…

“I hope I remember this later!”

If we were to follow the example of the Apostle Paul, our reaction would be closest to the first of these, as silly as it may sound. Paul found great joy in praying for others, asking God to intervene in their lives in order to accomplish His purposes. Take a look at Philippians 1:4-8.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Paul was a prisoner, and yet his affection for his brothers and sisters living in Philippi was so great that it brought him joy to pray for them. This joy certainly didn’t come from his circumstances. So from where did it come?

1. Joy in their shared history – Paul had been through hard things with these people. In Acts 16, we read about how Paul and Silas were jailed in Philippi. As the two missionaries were being run out of town by the magistrates, they visited the fledgling house church there one last time. That church was the one Paul later wrote these words to, once again jailed for the sake of the gospel. Paul honored their history together by praying for them with joy.

2. Joy in their shared standing in Christ – Paul recognized that these people he was praying for weren’t just any people. They belonged to the household of God, beloved children of the Almighty, co-heirs with Jesus Christ! He knew that God was at work in their lives, and that God would carry that work to completion. He knew they shared in God’s grace – with him. They were beloved just as he was beloved. What a joy it is to know that others experience the love of God just as I do! What a bond we share!

3. Joy in God’s love for them – Paul longed for these people “with the affection of Christ Jesus.” He was able to see them from God’s point of view. Shouldn’t we, as God’s people, care about the things God cares about? God takes joy in answering the prayers of His people. Should we not also take joy in lifting their prayer needs to God?

And so, I am convicted. I want to be more like Paul in this, finding joy in lifting the needs of my brothers and sisters to our Father. I want to pray as Paul prayed, that their love would abound more and more, that they would have knowledge and discernment, and that they would remain pure and blameless until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-11).

Speaking of which, do you ever notice that when Paul prays for people, he never prays that they would find relief from their bunions, find a new job, or get along better with their sister? He always prays for things like “abounding love,” “depth of insight,” and “the fruit of righteousness.” I wonder if we prayed these things for one another how it might change our level of excitement about praying for others. I wonder how it might change our lives…

But that’s another post for another time. For now, let us pray for one another with all joy!

Now, remind me again what you wanted prayer for...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are You Writing?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

-- Hebrews 10:24-25
I’m writing this because a thirteen-year-old called my cell phone at ten o’clock last night. Had he not done so, I would surely be doing something else. But he called. So, here I am.

This requires some explanation. Let me back up.

Several weeks ago, following a sermon on investing in eternal things, my Ever-Lovin’ Wife (ELW) led our small group in a prayer exercise.
We were to ask God if there was something He wanted us to invest in, either with our time or our money, and then to listen for His response. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and began to pray silently.

Instantly, I knew what God wanted me to do.
He wanted me to write. Devotionals, blogging, curriculum, sermons…my books. He wanted me to invest in writing for Him.

I felt anxious, agitated.
“But God,” I replied, “I don’t have time to write. If I were to do that, I’d have to give up some of my relaxation time. I’d have to watch less TV! You know how much TV means to me!”

Looking back on it, this reply seems somewhat childish and awfully silly.
But in that moment, it seemed true. I had been convicted by the Holy Spirit to do something that I had no desire to do, and I felt angry that God would even ask. By God’s grace, I shared this experience with my small group and asked them to pray that God would change my heart.

Weeks went by, and despite my small group community’s prayers and encouragement, still no writing.
But I could sense God softening my heart toward the idea. I went from loathing at the thought of it, to begrudging acceptance that it was a good idea, to some sort of vaguely eager anticipation of it. I even came up with a plan for how writing might occur. Each night after putting ELW to bed (I’m still tucking her in after twelve years of marriage), I would spend the next hour writing. It was specific, measurable, and not overly ambitious. In other words, it was perfect.

Except for one thing.
I didn’t do it.

Enter my thirteen-year-old friend, Tyler Crane.
Tyler is in the 8th grade guys small group that I lead at church. Last weekend several folks from our youth group, including Tyler and me, attended a local Summer Camp in the foothills. There, we heard a message on Ephesians 5:15-16 about making the most of the short time we have on earth, spending it doing things with eternal ramifications. Again, God brought my writing to mind. I mentioned this conviction with my 8th grade guys, both during our car ride home and at youth group this week, in an effort to model transparency. But God had more in store.

After youth group, Tyler came up to me and said, “So, your plan is to write after your wife goes to bed each night?”

“That’s right,” I said.

“So, what time does she go to bed?"

“Oh, between 9:30 and 9:45 I suppose.”

"So…if I called you at 10:00, you should be writing when I called, right?”

I hesitated.
I could see where this was going. “Yeah, I guess that’s right.”

I’ll call you tonight.”

And he did.
At 10pm. On the dot.

I answered, “Hi, Tyler.”

Three words came back in response: “Are you writing?”

That was last night.
I did write last night, though I was working on a Seminary project, and as my wonderful ELW reminded me this evening, God did not tell me He wants me to invest more time in getting my homework done.

And so tonight, I’m writing this.

I’m writing this to say that I now have a real life example of what the author of Hebrews means when he commands us to “spur one another on.”
Spurring is aggressive encouragement. Help that can’t be ignored. A ten o’clock phone call to find out if you’re writing. That’s being spurred on. That’s love.

I’m writing this to say that while God filled the powder keg of inspiration and conviction that has led me to write, it was Tyler Crane who lit the match.
(Tonight, I was three paragraphs in when he called. I don’t know what I’ll be in the midst of tomorrow night, but I know I’ll be writing something!)

I’m writing this to ask you if someone in your life needs this kind of spurring on.
Maybe you need it yourself. For me, being spurred on is a nightly phone call and a simple question. What would it look like for you, or for the ones you love?

Because, if we’re honest, we all have times in our lives when what we really need is for someone to call us and ask, “Are you writing?”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Enough is Enough

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Luke 3:10-11

Brad led a dorm bible study that I attended during my first year in college. He shared a house just off campus with a few other Christian guys, and he and his housemates ministered to many of the neighborhood’s homeless men. After several months of doing this, it became known in the homeless community that Brad’s house was a place you could go for help.

One chilly winter night, a homeless man showed up on Brad’s doorstep asking if the guys might have a blanket to spare, since he had nothing to shield him from the night air. Brad and his housemates searched the house, but they had given away all of the spare blankets they usually kept on hand for such occasions. In fact, there was only one spare blanket in the whole house: Brad’s childhood blanket, affectionately known as Brad’s "binkie."

Brad had loved his binkie as long as he could remember. He had grown up with it. His binkie had brought him comfort as a child, and even now as a young adult, it still stirred fond memories in his heart.

But that night, someone needed his binkie more than he did.

Brad carried his binkie to the front door, gave it one last hug, and handed it to the homeless man on the porch.

How much do you need to have before you have enough to share with others? According to John the Baptist, if you own two outfits, you’re ready to start giving!

For most of us, this standard seems unachievable. We are much more likely to hold our possessions with a clutching claw rather than with an open palm. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we can learn to trust God with our possessions, even when that means giving them away.

Even when it means giving away our binkie.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spring, v. 2.0

For Christmas this past year, the one thing I reeeeealllly wanted was a new lens for my Canon D-SLR. Specifically, the 50 mm 1.8 prime lens. (I know this probably won't mean anything except to other photographers) Fortunately, Santa was kind enough to hear my shameless hint-dropping! Now that spring has dropped in to California for a sneak preview, I was excited to get to "get to know" my new lens and have some fun with the shallow depth of field. So without further ado, I bring you, "My front yard, at f/2.0"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Year in Pictures: 2010

In January, we took a refreshing weekend get-away up to Shasta, and I got to play in the snow while Gary took pictures from the warmth of indoors! Looking back, that weekend felt like the turning point in our lives, closing the chapter on grief and survival, and looking forward to joy and hope.

In February, we took advantage of beautiful weather for a hike out towards Auburn. We discovered a path off the main trail that led to a little alcove with this view. The perfect place for lunch, and one of my favorite hiking finds yet!

In March, we attended the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Old Sac. We'd attended this parade during our first year of marriage, so it definitely brought out a lot of those "we're back home!" feelings. This was my favorite float, with the saddest girl scout troop ever! I don't know why they are so miserable, but they just make me giggle! Don't they look as if they are being punished? Poor kids.

In April, we were invited to spend the weekend with friends (from our old Fair Oaks small group) in Lake Tahoe. There was quite a bit of snow, but we managed to find a stretch of shore to walk along. It was the first chance we had to catch up since moving away, and it was a sweet time.

In May, we had the joy of celebrating with our good friends Eric and Stacy, as they officially tied the knot! I was overwhelmed with joy, as these two both are like family to me, and are deserving of such rich blessing together. The icing on the cake was that we now share wedding anniversaries!

June brought the first ever Fam-Bam camping trip. We took Molly with us to Fallen Leaf Lake, which is a little gem hidden just a couple miles away from Lake Tahoe. There was swimming, hiking, and bacon, in that order (though not all in one day!).

In July, I spotted this tabbycat snoozing peacefully in our backyard. I snapped this pic, which I later entered in the annual N magazine photo contest, resulting in my first publication! Many thanks, mystery cat!

In August, we fulfilled our dream to camp at Crater Lake, OR. In this picture, Gary is pointing to the peak to which we had hiked the day before. Oh, and yes, we know that we are dorks!

September was our trip to Heavenly Hills Family Camp, in Twain Harte. Our former pastor from Jacob's Well was coming down from Idaho to be the camp speaker, and a few of us decided (separately) to pop in and surprise him! If you know us at all, you've probably heard us talk about this church and what a special family we were. To reunite and share what God has been doing in each of us really felt like a holy blessing from God. What a gift, to love such brothers and sisters. I will never forget that weekend.

With October came our annual Halloween tradition, "Candy Poker Night". After years of hosting the event, Gary was proud to finally be a winner of said candy poker, even defeating Ron Burgundy to the last tootsie roll.

In November, we thought we'd be clever and do our own family pictures in a local photography studio. We got our traditional classy images, but I couldn't leave without having a little fun... here's one that didn't make the Christmas card!

In December, we had an early "Holly Molly Christmas" celebration so that we could enjoy Christmas together before Molly headed to Concord to meet up with family. After we all exchanged gifts, Molly and I headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. Baking together on my days off has been one of our special traditions over this past year, and we have discovered some yummy new (low sugar!) recipes. Christmas day was a special treat: orange chocolate pancakes. Mmmmmmmmm!!!!