Join me in my journey to become more like Christ this summer
at the Navigator's Smoky Mountain Summer 2013!

STP Collage

-Kathryn

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Wow, how can I wrap up two life-changing months of my life into such a small synopsis? I don’t know how to describe how the intense, weekly bible-study on Colossians, the Monday-night evangelism in Gatlinburg, the discipleship, the numerous hours spent in the Word and with the Lord, my job at the Dollywood, the laughter and tears I shared with my team, or the incredible community and fellowship truly and deeply rocked my world.

What did God teach me while I was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee?

Patience. I learned to purposefully slow down, rest and wait. I worked 40 hours/week and woke up early every morning to attend various Navigator training events. I had to intentionally seek rest in Christ so that I would be renewed daily. Gradually, I gave up different areas in my life to allow room to trust in God’s plan and timing in ways that I have never done before. Also, before STP, I expected to “learn something new” each time I had a quiet time or read the bible. This summer, instead of quantifying my relationship with the Lord, I experienced what it is like to dwell in community with Him. I learned to worship God, not just work for Him.

Purpose. This past year, I have struggled to see why God made me the way that I am or what He has for me at UNF. However, this summer, I experienced God’s grace concerning my faults and found that He loves me dearly and has a specific purpose for me. With this profound identity and purpose in Christ, I now see my friendships, my role as a leader, my time and my thoughts in a new light.  I have found that I delight in equipping these areas to enhance God’s kingdom.

God transformed me in ways that I had not realized was possible and in areas that I never knew I needed to grow in. This program stretched me emotionally, physically and spiritually in such a way that God flipped my world upside down and regained my trust and dependency on Him. I am incredibly excited to go back to University of North Florida (UNF) and disciple others, take up leadership roles (including leading a bible study!), and make time for purposeful community and interactions with other students in my classes and in my campus ministry, RUF.

 

Thank you so much for the ways that you have prayed for, encouraged, and financed me this summer. I was constantly uplifted by the thought of all the people who were supporting me in my desire to know Christ and make Him known in a truer, more full way. I am excited to see all the ways that God wants to bring His kingdom to UNF this fall; please pray that God will do big things through me!

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I have finally arrived home! The program was absolutely amazing.. I will be sending letters out about it very soon!

My Heart, Christ's Home

Something I have been really learning about and reflecting on this summer is that God wants to make my heart His home. I read “My Heart, Christ’s Home,” a really thought-provoking analogy of Jesus entering our lives just like a guest enters a home. How can I give up the ownership rights to my home and allow God to clean out what He needs to and make it a true dwelling place of faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for me in heaven (Col. 1:5-6)? This has been a deep question I am wrestling with.

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I chose UNF because that’s where I felt most at home and where I could have good community and a great college experience. However, I have gradually begun to find that my college experience is so much bigger than myself; it’s about bringing God’s kingdom to UNF. What a different mindset… not to make UNF my own but to bring God to UNF in a new way. I loved Ray Hoo’s talk yesterday about identity in Christ. I am pumped about “living life in the reality of who I am in Jesus.” With new life in Christ, I am freed from comparing myself or my faith to others, competing to be smarter or holier than other people, or criticizing others to make me feel better about myself. The truth is, I am full of faults. BUT I am freed to be who I am and to do what God has specifically designed me to do. He made me an English-lover, a pun-maker, an encouragement-seeker, a “lion” who likes to take lead. He made me silly and awkward at times. And, you know what? He LOVES these aspects of who I am. It was so refreshing to have Craig and my parents up here to visit. They reminded me that I am deeply cared about for who I am, by them and by Jesus. I am realizing more and more that I am uniquely gifted to serve God at UNF. He put me there for a reason and I am freely justified to live with positive self-esteem, a deep sense of security (Psalm 27) and a strong awareness of the significance I have in building God’s kingdom in Jacksonville.

The first fruits of my labor. (Yes, I made these eclairs all by myself!) #bakerylife

The first fruits of my labor. (Yes, I made these eclairs all by myself!) #bakerylife

"I will praise You forever for what You have done; in Your Name I will hope, for Your Name is good."

- Psalm 52:9a

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I love the idea that, when we realize that we are more sinful then we could possibly think, only then can we find that God is more holy and gracious than we could ever imagine… only then can we see the cross hugely in our lives and realize how amazing Christ’s death and resurrection really are.
But, when it comes down to actually being confronted with the reality of my sin in my life or the idea of being far more sinful that I could possibly think is really, REALLY uncomfortable. First of all, I don’t like when people view the ugliness beneath my composed mask. Plus, I don’t like thinking about my weaknesses. It is extremely difficult, messy and uncomfortable.

Yet, God’s grace is abundant and His promises are good. Taylor, my team lead, is going to go through a study on holiness with me as she weekly disciples me and I am so excited. It will be hard to look at sin’s prevalence in my life, but I am incredibly grateful that God is made perfect in my weaknesses. Plus, when I am humbled by my broken nature, in turn I feel my need for Him and I give God the glory instead of soaking it pridefully in myself. The fact that God equips and uses us broken people even at our weakest points to labor for His kingdom awes me. Seriously.. How GREAT is our God.

Square Dance with my team!

Square Dance with my team!

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Yesterday was a full, hard day. I woke up, studied God’s Word, had a great bible study session with my team, grabbed lunch, rushed off to work, and stayed busy in the Bakery until 10pm. I am beginning to have flashbacks to points during spring semester at UNF where classes were coming to an end and I would feel overwhelmed and almost as if I was barely swimming above the current of schoolwork, deadlines, friendships, rest, and overall sanity. However, here, I struggle to keep up with bible studies, discipleship, seminars, sessions, events, community, and over 30 hours of work each week.
In some ways, I wish so much that I worked at Dollywood less so that I could have more time for my other commitments, like being in God’s Word. Yet, at the same time, I am realizing that being this busy and overwhelmed is maybe the best thing that could be happening to me right now. Realistically, I am bound to head back to UNF in the fall and times will get tough… SO tough that I will end up prioritizing schoolwork over time spent with God. With this in mind, even though I do not want to be overwhelmed right now, the reality is that this program is teaching me how to deal with exhaustion later on when things get even more difficult. When else is a better time to feel exhausted than here, in an encouraging environment full of people who pursue the Lord and want me to also pursue Him? When else will I have the chance to really reflect on my exhaustion and push through it all the while having accountability so that I lean on God and stay in the Word along the way?
Food for thought: My team leader pointed out that if we are feeling tired or grouchy, it is either a result of not getting enough sleep or not getting enough time alone with the Lord.

Please pray for me as I learn how to deal with exhaustion in a healthy way in which I rely on God’s strength and not my own.

I hope you all are having an amazing summer!

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

- Psalm 139:23-24