Life, Post-Moody

Life transitions are rough. Like, really rough. Rough enough to make you lose weight, gain acne, and even wander around your house aimlessly in your pajamas for days, hoping that crab rangoon will magically appear the thousandth time you open the fridge. But really…this actually happened right after I graduated.

Don’t be fooled-graduating college and leaving your best friends and home of four years behind is not for the faint of heart! But the point of this post is not to complain. Rather I’d like to give you, brave reader, a raw and unfiltered glimpse into what life has been like post-Moody.

Moody Bible Institute, with all her quirks, will always be special to me, for within her walls God drew me closer to Himself than ever before. As I sleepily got onto my red-eye flight back to Chicago after this past Christmas, I was dreading the fact that I was headed into my last semester. Don’t get me wrong- I was relieved that homework would end for in a few months, but leaving Moody behind for good? It was enough to make this senior’s heart very heavy.

Fast forward to a few weeks after graduation, when the dust began to settle (literally…I still haven’t unpacked all of my college bins!), and suddenly it began to sink in that a sweet chapter of life had closed. With my plan being to take a year off to work and save money to get my grad degree in counseling, besides working, I had no idea what to do with my life. And quite honestly reader, I’m still not completely sure what God wants for me in this season of life, and how I can best serve and glorify Him right now. For a while, I thought I had it all figured out – I was going to move to be closer to the guy I was dating long-distance, I was going to get a ministry job (because, you know, being a Moody grad, you need to get an “official” ministry job, right?), get a cat etc. But then, life…

Turns out the guy I was dating and I were only meant to journey so far together before parting ways, the “ministry job” was never even applied for, and the only thing that came to fruition in that list is getting a cat. Hey, you can’t start being a crazy cat lady too early in life.  Needless to say, life after Moody has been extremely unpredictable.

God’s ways are never ours. Instead of what I had planned, He gave me an incredible nanny position here in Colorado, and moved me to a new city to live with my grandparents who have graciously let me stay with them so that I can save money for grad school. While I’m still searching for community and new friends, I have no choice but to trust God to provide these things too.

Life circumstances have turned out to be quite different than what I expected, but you’d think that graduating from four years of studying the Bible your spiritual life would be at an all-time high, right? Wrong.

During my time at Moody, my relationship with God went through various seasons, some where He asked me to simply sit at His feet and be still, others where He began to teach me the art of lament and weakness. In this first post-grad chapter, God has taken me through a season of brokenness and darkness.

In this life season I’ve struggled with sins that hadn’t cropped up in my life before, given in to an attitude of apathy about digging deep into Scripture or any spiritual discipline for that matter, and tried to glaze over the condition of my heart and soul in an attempt to numb the pain and grief that transition and loss bring. It’s safe to say that this has been one of the hardest and darkest seasons in my walk with God thus far.

In my pride and addiction to perfection, I’d like to be able to tell you that things are grand now, that I’m speaking of what’s already taken place and that God’s guided me out of the spiritual valley, that I have it all together…

That’s not even close to reality. Life is still messy. God is ever-faithful in walking this road with me, every muddy, messy step of it, and holding my finite frame tightly, not afraid of my sin or my mess, thank goodness.

That’s what the incarnation of Christ is all about, after all- God humbling himself and entering into our human form, our human mess and chaos to redeem us. The more I get to know this Jesus, the more astounded I am by His character. While this has been a scary and challenging season, God has stayed ever-true to his character, and has never once faltered, never left my side, never walked out, just as is promised in Matthew 28:20 when Jesus tells his disciples “and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I’m being humbled and pruned, recognizing my weakness and ultimate need for Christ and helplessness without Him once again. It hurts. It’s messy. It’s not fun. And, as the band Rend Collective sings “in my wrestling and in my doubt, in my failure You [God] won’t walk out.” Take heart, fellow grads. He won’t walk out. He won’t walk out. He won’t walk out.

~Katie

 

Cheese & Faithfulness

It’s a bit past 10, and as I hungrily munch on crackers and splurge cheese (aka- cheese that was a few cents more in Trader Joe’s because it tastes so good), I begin to tentatively embrace the impending reality that my undergrad college days are coming to a close.

It was a chilly day in March when my family and I first set foot on Moody’s campus, and the Lord told me “this is it! This is where you’re supposed to be for the next four years!” Little did I know the treasures and sorrows that lay ahead.

For three (nearly four) glorious years, Moody and I have spent time and money investing in one another. It’s here among the red bricks and sky scrapers that I’ve begun to learn about my identity, have been transformed by the loving hand of God, and been challenged and cared for by those around me. It is also here, in this dear place, that close friends and I have been exposed to seasons of inky darkness, spiritual warfare, and deep sorrow. Without the community of Moody and the soul ties that are forged within her walls, no student would make it through with his or her sanity in-tact. Moody has taught me that trusted friends who do life with you are essential, and that “doing life” together means taking a deep breath, and preparing to bear one another up, even as one or both of you may walk through hell.

It is an honor to live in the same place as so many broken  women and men who have been made whole in Christ, and are committed to serving Jesus and spreading His gospel until they breathe their last. These are the future mothers, women’s ministers, pastors, fathers, evangelists, counselors, missionaries, authors, musicians, worship leaders, Bible translators, teachers, professors (and so much more) of this generation. We are not perfect, but that’s the beauty of it- we wouldn’t need the gospel if we were! Can you imagine the influence of 1600 souls who cling to Jesus and through His strength are brave enough to carry the gospel into the darkest regions of the earth? It’s inspiring to think upon.

Can you see why I’m reluctant to leave?

No doubt, these past three years have been the most difficult of my brief existence, with this year as no exception I’m sure. God has revealed my own ugliness of soul, that I may be broken before Him and realize my utter need for dependence upon him – not fun lessons to learn. Yet God has been present in every moment.

The day I left for Italy with women’s choir, and was forever changed by the experiences had there, the Lord was there.

The day my family called to tell me that my dad lost his job, Jesus held me as I wept with them.

The evenings that fragile friendships were tested and prodded, He was there and began to heal them.

Nights when I was exhausted from working two or three jobs and still wasn’t sure how I would pay my school bill, the Good Shepherd gave me rest, never once faltering in His miraculous provision, despite my anxiety and doubt.

The early morning when I was kidnapped by my new floor and initiated as their new RA (resident assistant), I think the Lord laughed at the crazy antics and sweet welcome, too.

In the hours upon hours of hilarious, deep conversation held between priceless friends, the Father was there then, too.

God’s faithfulness has been the theme of my brief journey through Moody. Every time I doubted His love, existence, care, goodness, faithfulness, provision- you name it, I’ve doubted it – He proved himself faithful. Every single time.

Moody’s “theme hymn” is Great Is Thy Faithfulness – we sing it at the beginning of each year, and I  have a feeling that in about nine months as I pack my last box, hug precious friends for the last time, and bid campus farewell, that the old hymn will once more grace my lips.

The Seed

Plant, water, wait.

A small seed sits beneath the sun-kissed earth, waiting, biding its time.

The Gardner anxiously bends near the earth, eyes wide, glittering with anticipation.

The seed sits, lingering, motionless.

The Gardner watchfully waters his tiny seed each day.

Nothing.

Impatiently the Gardner sighs, patting the warm earth containing the seed.

Much time slips by. Still, nothing.

The Gardner plagues himself with biting questions that viciously gnaw away at his hope for the tiny seed.

However, the Gardner does not abandon his bond with the earth.

He too, begins to wait.

One pale spring morning – the kind where droplets of water fall from the grass onto bare toes –

The Gardner takes a deep breath, and makes his daily journey to the seed.

And, oh!

A thin, green, living thing has sprouted up from that once desolate place!

Can this be?

The Gardner’s enthusiasm bursts forth, much like the bubbling fizz from a can of shaken root-beer.

Undoubtedly, the sprout is small and fragile.

Yet it is a sprout, where once there was only dirt.

No Makeup November

I’m not sure why, but November seems like the perfect month to challenge yourself in a way you may not in your usual routine, such as refusing to shave. This November, after much deliberation and hesitation, I’ve decided to not wear any makeup for the entire month. As a woman that has naturally light eyelashes and is prone to some acne, and thus wears some makeup everyday, it was an intimidating decision to make.

Well, it’s been four days since I’ve used any makeup, and I’ve realized how much I depend on it for a sense of confidence and security, especially at 7-something in the morning when my eyes are puffy and stubborn about opening.

The past couple of days, I’ve even found myself avoiding eye contact with some people because I’m afraid of how they’ll perceive me! How silly, shallow, and self-centered is that? Yet it’s true. I’ve based much of my sense of worth in what others think of me and see in me, which ultimately leads to insecurity and fear. Yuck.

Beginning in August, God has been gently teaching me about His perception of me, and how secure my identity is in Him as a daughter of the Most High. But the learning is slow, and the lies I’ve bought into seem burrowed deep into the heart and mind. Even so, He has been gracious and patient with me.

So, why give up makeup for a month? In my case, it’s because I’m sick of depending on it to feel noticeable, to feel pretty and “defined,” to feel feminine. My own use of makeup isn’t simply skin-deep, but heart deep and I’m praying this is a time when the Lord can sort through some of the insecurities and lies burrowed in my heart, and replace insecurity with a firm foundation of identity rooted in my standing before Him. We’ll see what happens!**

**With that said, this is a personal decision that prayer and thought has gone into, and I do not see anything intrinsically wrong with wearing makeup. In fact, after the month is up, I’ll probably go back to wearing it again, yet hopefully with a different heart approach! This is simply the season of learning the Lord has me in, and wearing or not wearing makeup in no way defines mine nor  your spirituality/relationship with God.**

Live Free

Are the walls to lock you in or to keep others away? 

And if the doors were opened would you leave or would you stay? 

The comfort of your misery you cherish dearly…

And you haven’t started dreaming because you’re still fast asleep…

But don’t you wanna run wild, live free, love strong, you and me? 

(For King and For Country, Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong) 

This is currently my favorite song, and I find myself playing it at least once a day, because I can identify with it.

I’m a slave to a master whom I picked out myself through lies I’ve chosen to believe.

Ironic how as believers who have been set free by the blood of Jesus Christ we choose to entangle ourselves in the chains of sin and lies. Don’t you ever tire of the clanking metal links that bite your skin and chew away at your very being? Do you ever dream of what it must be like to like to really live full and free? Or have you and I chosen bondage to sin and lies so long that we love the comfort of our own misery? Personally, I know that often I choose to wallow in my own muck rather than enjoy the freedom I’ve been given in Christ.

In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  

You and I were never meant to live in the prison and chains of our own making that we so often choose.

In John 5, Jesus encounters a man by the pool of Bethesda who has been sick for 38 years, and instead of healing him instantly, here’s what Jesus says to the man “now a certain man was there [at the pool] who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, Do you want to be made well?”  (John 5:5-6, emphasis added)  

The Lord loves you passionately and desires to see you living in your full identity and wholeness in Him.

But He is also a gentleman, and will not force you and I out of our chains that we cling to so tightly, though they rip us to shreds.

Your prison and my prison may look different, but I know one thing to be true – I’m ready to be free. I’m sick of accepting my sin and the lies I’ve believed for too long, allowing them to dictate who I am.

No matter what you are slave to, there is freedom to be found through the power of Jesus Christ, and He invites us as His children to have life and freedom and wholeness in abundance. The question is, do you want to be made well?

If your soul’s locked in a cage, 

You can make the great escape 

We’re made to run wild 

Live free 

Love strong, you and me. (For King and For Country)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 

John 8:36

Life as a Buffalo Gal

All is quiet and serene as I sit in the lounge of Houghton 2, listening to music and slowly making progress on procrastinated homework. The women who live on this floor are tucked quietly away in their rooms, getting rest and preparing for the upcoming week. These are women whom the Lord has called to Moody at this time for a specific purpose, and whom He has placed on Houghton 2 by no accident. They are each stunningly beautiful, baring the fingerprints of their Creator. They each have a distinct eye color, personalized laughs, specific callings, all kinds of sass, and hearts that are passionate about their Savior. They love one another in their own styles, and look out for each other well. These are women who are having an influence in this city, on this campus, and in the lives of so many, including my own, for the Lord.

And, as I sit here on this late September Sunday, I am thankful to live among these precious women.

How To Be Married for 23 Years

Today was my parent’s 23rd anniversary, and as their kid, it’s fun to think about them on this very day so many years ago (ok, not that many…), my mom climbing into her wedding dress, dad nervously joking with his groomsmen.

23 years later, my dad suggested that we go out as a family to our country-bumpkin fro-yo shop, which we frequent from time to time. As the five of us sat with heaping bowls of sugary goodness, I asked my parents how they’ve made their marriage last this long. Their first response was an exchange of a rye look or two, while mom whispered that she stayed for the sex, as dad turned pink and just laughed. And, if you’ve been around this family long enough, you’ll know that this is typical of my parents…but hey, they have always said “it’s good for you kids to know that we love each other! And besides, we’re married – we have a license.”

After the laughter had passed, they proceeded to share some valuable insight with us:

1. You only stay married and love each other by the grace of God. He’s what keeps you together. Even then, sometimes you drive each other crazy- you’re only human.

2. When we made a commitment at the altar, it was for life. We stay faithful to that commitment.

3. Divorce has never been an option, or a word in our vocabulary.

4. It takes consistency. Talk things out, work through your problems, be open with each other.

5. We laugh a lot, and make each other laugh. It’s important to have fun.

 

It was interesting to sit and listen to what they had to say. I realized that though they’re not perfect, and my siblings and I have seen them at their best and worst moments, I truly admire them and their marriage they’ve worked so hard to keep strong. And wow, do they love each other.

I’m not sure what the Lord has in store for my future, but if I get married I hope that  my husband and I will always be able to sit down with our kids and be just as joyful and open about our life together as my parents were today.

So congrats, mom and dad! Thanks for loving each other and the Lord.

 

Poetry…of sorts?

[This is a piece of writing that was done in the midst of a fall rainstorm in the city, and was a product of processing life at the time.]

Purple pen in hand

Rain sloshing on the pavement outside.

The strum of quiet heartstrings, plucked at the thought of –

But caution, stills the hum of the strings.

How does one relinquish to the musician of the heart?

Should one?

Perhaps. And, perhaps not.

Who can know

The depths of a heart?

Only One.

Yahweh sees, revives the furthest corners of the heart.

Of my heart.

To His hand I can relinquish

This weary heart.

Purple pen in hand

Rain sloshing on the pavement outside.

Heart relinquished.

Free.

Surprise!

Have you ever felt like summer is a separate life-season in of itself? For me, each summer seems to bring with its warmth and multitude of memories a fresh, clean page to be written on. 

This particular summer, life at home has changed a lot. My family has experienced loss and a degree of suffering as my dad has been out of work for about eight months. This kind of experience leaves its mark on every member of the family in a different way. Yet reader, the Lord has provided and taken care of us without fail. For instance…

He’s given my dad strength to diligently apply for hundreds of jobs, and the courage to wake up each day and stay strong for his family, loving us despite his struggles. God has poured out His grace on my dad’s marriage to my mom, as they still love one another even though pressure and stress has been added to their relationship. On top of all of these blessings, He has allowed my dad to maintain his priceless sense of humor, which can make the whole family laugh even on the worst of days. 

He provided a teaching job for my mom so that the bills could be paid. Not only that, but He has supplied her with the strength and dignity to support her family through trial, and still bless people with her joy. I do not write these things to portray “perfect parents” or a “perfect family,” as we are VERY FAR from it, but I do believe that their attitudes through this trial are a testimony to God’s faithfulness.  

He’s provided food everyday for my family when they quite literally did not have the money to go grocery shopping. One time, my family was out of cereal (a staple in the Hills home). Both of my parents separately asked the Lord for cereal, and the next day a friend brought over a box full of food. As my parents looked inside the box, what did they see but a plethora of cereal! Reader, this is just a small example of the Lord’s ability to provide for our needs! 

In fact, when I thought I would have to pack up and leave Moody because I didn’t have the funds to stay, He provided multiple jobs for me to work, making it possible for me to finish the semester. He even provided last-minute provision when I came up short for my school bill not once, but twice. On top of all of those blessings, a few weeks ago He gave me a full-time nannying position this summer, where I get paid to have adventures with kids everyday! 

Dear reader, these are only a few examples of God’s faithfulness – you would not believe how He has provided even this past week! In fact, in the two weeks that I have been home, the Lord’s provision has been nothing short of miraculous. Oh, and how many times I have doubted, feared, fretted, and been burdened with worry. Yet despite my lack of faith and the darkness of my doubt, the Lord never ceased in His gentle care. 

Throughout this season, I have learned a few things about the Lord: 

The God I serve is the God who owns the cattle on 1,000 hills.

My King is faithful, and even cares about your need for little things, such as cereal. 

I am under the care of the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, and He never forgets any of His sheep. Ever.  

Jehovah Jireh (God-Provides) is the God of miracles, and too often I forget what He is capable of. 

Lasty, my Savior deserves to be bragged about because He is ceaseless in His protection, love, and constant care. All praise and glory be to His name alone!

With that said, I think I found a word that encompasses this life season: surprise.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:30-33

It all started because of coffee.

It was only two years ago that she came into my life. I clearly remember the day we met – I walked into the orientation classroom at Moody, a nervous freshman sporting a bright orange lanyard. I sat down next to her, and we began bonding over our mutual love for coffee. Her smile was contagious, and I knew at that moment that I wanted to be her friend.

What I didn’t know was that only a semester later we would be roommates, and that the Lord would give us a priceless sistership. 

Fast-forward a year, and a mere three nights ago, after the finals, after the packing, we sat in the empty little room we’ve called home. It was our last night as roommates.

We began reflecting on what those four walls of room 616 had witnessed, and how much life we had experienced together in the past year, attempting to process the immense changes coming our way this next fall. 

Throughout the evening, close friends and neighbors stopped by, partaking in our sleep-deprived laughter and enjoyment of friendship. It was good to all be together before we scattered for the summer.

After the friends left, as the clock was nearing 2 am, we turned the lights out and looked up, appreciating our glow-in-the-dark star-covered ceiling one last time ( a gift, considering the lack of stars in the Chicago sky). We briefly sat in silence, then she said “this is precious. This time has been precious.” And she’s right. 

We’ve shared the past year’s most difficult moments together, supporting one another through breakups, uncertainties, failures, and many tears. We’ve had to confront one another, work through our issues together, apologize, choose to forgive each other, and love and serve one another despite circumstances and mistakes. 

We’ve celebrated one another’s quirks, laughed until we couldn’t breathe (we’ve discovered we have a similar sense of humor, which is a beautiful thing), and accompanied each other on more than one adventure, and even instituted traditions! 

Although we will no longer be roommates. I cannot imagine a day when we will not be sisters. There are just some people in life who will walk with you through fire, and triumph with you in the celebrations, and they are not soon forgotten or easily let go of. 

 We are two sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and our friendship is far from perfect. Yet it is something to be treasured, for it screams of God’s faithfulness, His strength, and His grace.