Caterpillar Camoflage



This is what the Lord says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:10-13

Ever feel like you're "in control" of your life??  Better question: Ever feel like your out of control of your life? ...like it's spinning, crumbling, toppling over, nothing is as it should be, how you planned it, out of control...?

Me too! Both of the above, actually... Usually I feel the first... I make my plans, organize my life, your life, my job, Chris's job, everything is under control.  Then, out of nowhere, everything changes, and I'm left realizing just how out of control I really am, along with my plans... grr.... That is so problematic for me.

Meet my friend:




He's a caterpillar, he came to visit me for awhile at work. There he was, crawling around the petals of a flower, carrying the weight of his whole world on his little back. 

The first day I found him, he was just a little white guy crawling around the flower... Every morning I came in to work, there were more and more holes in the flower's petals where he was chewing them up and placing pieces of them on his back. Being a total wildlife nerd, I was fascinated by him! So we took some pictures and did some research... Turns out he was hiding, camouflaging himself from anything that could harm him or eat him, banking his whole life on the little petal bits that were weighing him down... Then, tragically, one morning I came in to find dry flowers and a shriveled up little caterpillar friend. The little cut flowers couldn't live forever to sustain him or hide him from starvation.

He thought he could control his destiny, when in fact, all he could do was decorate himself and give me something to stare at for a few days at work... Little did he know, he was teaching me a lesson with each new petal bit he placed on his back... Ok, maybe not, but you have to admit, he's pretty awesome, right??

What he DID teach me was that no matter how much we try to control the outcome of our life's journey, we're all going to physically end up like my little caterpillar friend one day. In the mean time, we may as well relax and let Someone much bigger than ourselves iron out the details of our journey...

I love looking back on my life and realizing how many great and awesome plans I've had for myself, and how most of them DIDN'T work out. I planned on marrying Michelangelo (the turtle), Macaulay Culkin, and JTT. I didn't seem to marry any of them, although I still sometimes daydream about that ninja turtle... I planned on being a child psychologist. I planned on staying in Tennessee another year... or forever. I planned on going back to school and teaching. I planned on being a housewife NOW, not later..............

The best part is THIS: Had any one of those plans I made worked out how I wanted them to, I wouldn't be where I am today! ...and in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined or planned my life any better than it was already planned long before my existence!

I've been learning a lot of new stuff about God recently, and one of the things that is really sticking out to me right now is when He asks us to do something, maybe it's not to test our obedience and see how good we can obey Him... Maybe instead it's to test our trust in His promises.

When He says He knows the plans He has for us, He's not lying, He really does! He has these big beautiful plans for each one of us, and I guess it's up to us to experience them or to screw them up... How much do we trust Him to fulfill His awesome plans for us, no matter how outrageous the path there may seem??

Personally, I've found that when we trust Him and follow Him, we experience blessings and peace beyond our understanding! ...but when we try to do it our way because we haven't fully trusted Him with our future, things never seem to work out how we "planned."

Does that mean that when we go astray and choose our own way, then so much for His great plans for us?? Of course not! God is always faithful to bring us back on track and no matter what our choices have been, He is ALWAYS able to fulfill His plans for us! He is a GOD OF REDEMPTION! How awesome is that?!

I LOOOOVE this part: "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."  What a promise! 

We WILL find Him! We WILL be in His presence, we WILL experience His life-changing peace and joy, He WILL fulfill His perfect plans for our lives!

I am really learning this year how to trust Him and His perfect timing for His perfect plans... It has been a loong and slow learning process, one that I'm sure will never fully come to completion, but one that is so exciting to be in the process of LEARNING. 

I hope that each of you will join us in this process... it is sooo good to lay your plans in the hands of the Almighty and accept His perfect plans in their place!

Over the years, y'all have continually lifted us up in prayer, and that has meant more to us than any of you will ever know. Today, I ask you again to lift us up in a special prayer for discernment.

The Lord has brought a child into our lives and I'm asking you to join us in prayer as we seek Him with all of our hearts. He WILL direct our steps, and we have no doubts about that.

Three years ago, I worked with a 13 year old at the Methodist Home for Children. I fell in love with her, I emailed you requesting prayers for her several times. When I left MHC she asked me to adopt her. We couldn't, she has sisters and had a foster family waiting for her. We WANTED to, but the timing wasn't right, OUR timing was off. Two months ago, the Lord TOTALLY surprised us and brought her back into our lives, and the last two months we have found ourselves praying about our future with this now 16 year old child who we love. She spent last weekend with us, and will very likely come home to Georgia and South Carolina with us in a couple of weeks. Oh man, I have tears of excitement in my eyes just typing this!!! We are SO excited about all of this, but not certain of where the Lord is leading us post-Christmas. Please join us in prayer as we seek His will for this child's future! Please pray that we don't get distracted when we think about the changes that will occur in our lives as we move forward. Our lives are not our own, we know that we are here to serve our Creator and love our neighbor, pray that we won't get caught up in the false belief that our life revolves around our happiness and comfort... it DOESN'T, and this Christmas will be such an opportune time to seek HIS face and HIS plans, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!

Thank you so very much for your prayers and your love! Again, they mean more than you'll ever know!

I love you all so so much!

"I thank my God every time I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
-Philippians 1:3-4

So now, go!

"So now, go.
I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you."
Exodus 3:10-12

I love how in my last email, I mentioned 2011 already looking incredibly blessed... And I love how I mentioned the 'fear of man' being a whole different email... I should have known it wouldn't be long before BOTH of those things would need to be addressed!

So... here goes!!!

About a week after I sent that email about embracing stagefright, I got a call from a friend at church. She wanted me to apply for a job at the Samaritan Center (www.samcen.org.) So I applied.... no expectations.... and I got an interview! So I interviewed.... and they offered me the job the next day! So I turned in my notice at Honda, and two weeks later started my new job. I hate leaving jobs, even when I'm not happy there, but I felt so very much peace about this that I wasn't even a bit emotional!

HOWEVER, I was scared out of my mind and VERY emotional over the fear that I wouldn't be equipped for my new position... Program Coordinator of an incredible ministry! And after three days of training, I'm not gonna lie, I was sooo more scared than I was before any training!  

It was actually a really great time of experiencing God for me, because when the enemy continually tempted me and said, "You can't do it..." in one ear, I continually heard God in the other ear whispering, "He's right, you can't! BUT I CAN! And I will. And I'll use YOU!"

So in the middle of all of this inner turmoil, Chris and I were reading through Exodus. I don't believe in coincidences, and I certainly don't believe that we just so happened to be reading about Moses during all of this. The night after my third day of training, we opened the Bible, and read the passage this e-mail began with. It was like this massively huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I read the words, "I will be with you." And those words have continued to stick with me over the last two months. I know I'm not equipped. Who am I to do this job and serve these people? I'm NOBODY! And God softly whispers, "I will be with you." And He has been!!! And He continues to be!

It has been an incredible couple of months, I have so many new family members who I love dearly! I actually can't figure out how I've managed to exist here for so long without knowing these people!  I have about 30 volunteers throughout the week... They meet with clients who come in seeking help, then they come to me for a decision on how we'll help them... If a client is seeking financial help, I'll meet with the client and go through this whole process with them that takes a week or so...... I have met some of the most beautiful people with the most beautiful faith that has inspired and encouraged me greatly! One of my greatest fears about this position, though, was... How am I supposed to know how to help these people??? How can I provide what they need, physically or spiritually??

In my moment of great distress over this fear, the Lord brought me this story:
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.
When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. 
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
This is what the LORD has commanded:
‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’” 
The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.
And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much,
and the one who gathered little did not have too little.
Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. 
Exodus 16:13-18

He continues to remind me of how unequipped I am and how totally equipped HE IS!!! He knows just what these people need, and HE will provide for them! He has taught me so much about Himself and His nature, about how GOOD He is and how much He loves us, and I just can't express what a blessing this opportunity has been!

As we continued to read through Exodus, we came across the following story, and I couldn't help but think of how thankful I am for each of you and your prayers for me over the past many years and into this new journey:
When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.
Aaron and Hur held his hands up
—one on one side, one on the other—
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Exodus 17:12-13

Thank you, thank you, thank you for holding my hands steady with your prayers! Please continue to pray for me and the people I come into contact with in my new job.

I love you all so so very much!! I hope you have had a blessed Resurrection Sunday!! We will be heading out with the youth tonight to our favorite place in the world, CAMP EAGLE!! Please be in prayer that our students will open their hearts and experience God!

His,
  Anna Kathryn

"I thank my God everytime I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
-Philippians 1:3

Love & Sex Secrets

Let me tell you a little about the girls in our youth ministry.... they are actually amazing, really super cool girls. So cool, in fact, that it's hard for me to understand why they enjoy ME so much! Haha, that's just the grace of God in my life! But really, these are 12-18 year old girls who really get what it means to love God. The way they love the Lord is so sweet and beautiful. They are an absolutely amazing blessing to me, and I love them with all my heart. Each one is a big monster droplet straight from His magnificent sprinkler!!

That said, in our Girl's Group on Tuesday nights, the topics of love and sex often come up. They have such a grasp on the importance of waiting, and why they are called to wait, it blows my mind! I really have quite a wide spectrum of situations in the group with me, from the ones who have never had boyfriends, to the ones who have reclaimed their virginity, and have INCREDIBLE testimonies of redemption that encourage the younger girls.

I couldn't be prouder of these girls, or more in awe of who they are and Who they serve! If I had a magazine that went out to thousands of teenagers in America every month, and I wanted to put an article in there on love and sex, written by teenagers for teenagers, these are definitely the people I would get to write it.......

Unfortunately, I don't... and it's left to magazines like Seventeen and Cosmo to advise the thousands of kids who read them about love and sex.

Wednesday at work I picked up the February issue of Seventeen Magazine, a magazine for teenagers, high schoolers, seventeen year olds! Something on the cover caught my eye, so I immediately flipped to page 94 and started reading:

Love & Sex Secrets
(no one ever tells you)

Everyone is talking about it - yet so much is left unsaid.
When your head and your heart are totally
confused, let these reader confessions guide you.

In the next six pages, I found myself literally horrified at what I was reading. I found lots of advice for teenagers about how to most enjoy the experience and not regret it. I read about a teenager who gave up on trying to wait until marraige and has found that sex is a fun and pleasurable part of her relationship. One girl explained the details of how she and her boyfriend planned and got away with it without their parents finding out. Another girl and her boyfriend broke up after he moved away, but she expresses that they made a mature decision together, and she wouldn't have wanted her first time to be with anyone else. There was one small section on the last page called "Why I'm Waiting." The three reasons mentioned: "I don't want to get pregnant," "I'm waiting until marraige," and "I want to be in love."  The three sentences dedicated to the 17 year old who stated that she is waiting for marraige are the only time this idea is mentioned in the entire article. Only briefly does the article discuss pregnacy or heartache, and not even once does it mention the dangers of sex and STD's.

In the entire article, there was not a single sentence encouraging teenagers to be careful, much less to wait until marriage.

I feel very strongly about this because I'm with teenage girls constantly, and I've seen the ramifications of sex before marraige. I've seen the STD's, pregnancy's, the heartbreak and the walls that the decision builds between the teenager and her Creator. I know this isn't a Christian magazine in any way, but this type of article in a magazine for children should not be tolerated from a Christian or a secular perspective.

Whether you're a teenager, a mom, or somewhere in between I'm writing this to encourage you to take a stand with me. Write a letter to the editor, cancel your subscription if you have one, be a light to the teenagers in your life, don't allow magazines, tv, movies, or any of today's culture get away with being the only voice they hear when it comes to sex.

E-mail the editors of Seventeen Magazine about the Love and Sex segment in the February Issue at mail@seventeen.com

Articles like this are so discouraging, so much of this worldly world we live in is discouraging, but I live and find peace in the comfort Jesus Christ gives us when He assures us:

"Take heart! I have overcome the world!"
John 16:33

Embracing Stage Fright



Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8

So, a few weeks ago I had to go to this class in Baton Rouge with some coworkers. It was somewhat of a traumatizing experience for me... Those of you who know me really well will completely understand this... Near the end of the class the words "role-play" came up... I immediately felt my heart rate increase, and feelings of intense dread and fear began to take over as the time drew closer and closer. Really... I know sometimes I over-dramatize things, this is not an over-exaggeration in the least... I told my group members that if they chose me to do the role-play I would break out in a sweat and walk out, ha! Pathetic, right? Well... the time came, and they all looked at me to go up there!!! This is embarrassing... I adamantly shook my head "no," and actually got wispy like I was gonna cry! I was SO embarrassed, but it was like I had no control over the fear that overcame my body and mind... Now I can laugh about it... A LOT... but in that moment, I just sat there and counted the seconds until the class would end and I could get away from these people who saw how weak and afraid I was... Haha, oh man, I guess my shyness hasn't completely escaped me just yet... Gosh, remember when I used to actually not talk at all...? to anyone?? I've come a long way, for sure.... but I just can't seem to get rid of that pesky stage fright...

A couple of days after the traumatizing experience, Chris and I were listening to Lecrae's newest CD, and these lyrics played:

I could play the background
Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won't You take the lead?
It's evident You run the show, so let me back down
You take the leading role, and I'll play the background
I know I miss my cues, know I forget my lines
I'm sticking to Your script, and I'm reading all Your signs
I don't need my name in lights, I don't need a starring role
Why gain the whole wide world, If I'm just gonna lose my soul
Yeah, so if you need me I'll be stage right
Praying the whole world will start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
'Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessing
That I'm not that impressive...............

I started thinking about my stage fright problem in the realm of my faith... maybe it's not such a bad thing.... (of course, the whole 'fear of man' issue involved in the role-play scenario is a whole different email, ha!)

Recently, I've been miserable at work, overwhelmed and burnt out in a big way... I've had several interviews and ideas of ways to get myself out of there, and I've found myself asking God often... "Why am I a receptionist...? I know this isn't my calling, and I KNOW I didn't graduate from Mercer with a degree in psychology so I could answer phones at a Honda dealership! When are You gonna get me out of here????" It's as if I think I could do it better on my own... I mean, I have lots of really great ideas... I spend a lot of time formulating different things I could do, and how to accomplish them... I would LOVE to be a stay-at-home wife, and focus my energy on serving Chris and helping him with the youth ministry... I spend A LOT of time trying to convince him that MY IDEAS are the right ideas....

...and for some reason, I'm still at Honda... answering phones. What could be the cause of this...?

I know, oh Lord, that a man’s life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

I know that there is some beautiful purpose for my being at Honda... Can't I rest in that? I actually know a good bit of why He directed me there, He has done incredible things in my life and the lives of others since I started, and has brought some of the most amazing people I know into my life. I've actually seen lives change for Him that wouldn't have changed if He hadn't brought me to Honda! In one case, He introduced us to somebody, Chris and I showed her a webpage, she went to Camp Eagle and was used to introduce high school students to Jesus last summer. Would that have happened if I hadn't followed God and gone to Honda?? What a blessing it has been to see the fruit He has produced through something that seems pointless and that 'I don't like.' I'm so grateful for that!

I love that verse up there. I love how plainly it displays that my life is not my own. It's become my daily prayer that I can live that verse out in my life... that I can take the background, and let God take the lead... Cause I KNOW that if I were to take the lead and actually get to write out the way I want my life to go, I would totally get in the way of His work, less people would know Him, and I wouldn't know Him as well as I do today.

I'm so good at stage fright... I'm trying to become just as good at it from an eternal perspective...

What would happen if every time we tried to push God to the side and take control of our own lives, we had the physical symptoms of stage fright... our heart rate increased, we broke out in a cold sweat, cried and ran the opposite direction...? I bet we would make a lot of different decisions for our lives.

The funny thing is, often He makes it so very clear what He would have us do in different circumstances. We've just become so confident in our own ability to do this life, that we don't pick up on it at all...

Will you pray with me this year to begin embracing stage fright? How our lives will change, and the lives of those God puts our paths, when we take the background and follow HIM where He leads us.

So... on another note, it's already looking like this is going to be an incredibly blessed 2011 for Chris and me! It is SO MUCH FUN to see Him work all around us and in the lives of the students He's blessed us with. I'm so excited for the possibilities and because of your faithful prayers and how the Lord has used each of you, I'm excited to keep all of you in the loop! Actually... I'm trying to start a blog to do just that... I know, I know... it's a little bandwagon-y, and I try not to jump on those, but I love reading them, and if I can make the commitment, I think I'll love writing one too! If you want to follow it, you can find it at hismagnificentsprinkler.blogspot.com.

Each of you has played such an awesome part in my life, thank you so very much for loving us and praying for us the way that you have.

Love you all so much!

His,
Anna Kathryn

"I thank my God every time I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
Philippians 1:3&4