Monday, December 23, 2013


Can you imagine the stench?

Joseph has walked and Mary ridden 90 miles in the scorching sun, the wind whipping around their faces and caking them with dust from the dirt road. More sweat pours from Mary’s brow as she experiences the pains of labor for the first time. The stable is packed with all the travelers’ animals. Flies buzz around them in the heat and the air is heavy with the smells of sickly sweet hay and manure.

And into this, a baby enters.

I have witnessed this kind of birth before. Woman sighs and baby falls right into the dirt, and in the dark of a tiny mud hut, with the light of just a thin candle, our eyes search for something, anything, sharp to cut the cord. Water is a luxury and too far to fetch at this hour so we wrap the baby in whatever filthy rag-scraps we can find without even wiping her off first.


Joseph, still merely a child himself, searches for anything he can find in the dim light to cut the cord and swaddle his child, probably rags carrying the afore mentioned stench and the dirt of the journey. Trembling and exhausted they wrap Him as best they can, and swatting flies away lay him in the same trough out of which these animals have been eating.

Behold, the Savior.

And in this moment God fulfils every promise and every prophecy. This, God’s perfect time. God does not wait for the world to get ready, He enters right into the mess.

He makes Himself very least, no more status or opportunity than an easily overlooked infant in the slums where I spend so many hard hours. Very least so that He can commune with the very most desperate – you and me. He doesn’t mind that I am not ready yet and He doesn’t mind the wretched condition of my heart or the stench of my sin. God’s time is now and He enters into the mess, ready or not.

His perfect timing, now. Now is where He has called us. And we are just not ready yet. We need to clean up the house a bit and pray a little more and seek more counsel and we don’t know how to do that yet and oh, we have our excuses. And God says, “I’m here now, and I am ok with the mess because I am here for the messy.”

God doesn’t need us to be ready for Him; He has been ready for us since the beginning of time and the Messiah is here calling us to commune with the Holy One, to eat at His table.

I want the house to be organized and kids to be clean and nicely dressed and I want dinner to come out of the oven on time, but at the end of the day they laundry still piles and there are still crumbs in the corner and can anyone remember if I brushed my teeth today? And it can’t be the New Year yet because I am just not ready for it to be a new year yet.

But I remember when I wasn’t ready to move to Uganda. I remember when I wasn’t ready to kiss the people I loved the most goodbye. I remember when I didn’t have enough money to sponsor just ten children, and I remember when I wasn’t old enough to be a mother, and I remember when I didn’t know how to parent. I remember when I couldn’t cook for fifteen people and when I didn’t want to share my house and my things and my life with sick people and addicts. I remember when I was afraid of the slum community that now holds hundreds of friends and when I was terrified that my daughter would never walk and when I was scared that we would never heal after tragic loss. And I remember that never, not once, was I really as ready as I wanted to be. And I remember that God kept all His promises, every last one, in His perfect time.

This new season looms and I don’t know what is next. But He doesn’t need me to be ready for this season because He is ready. He just needs me to be clinging to His feet.

Now. This is where He has called us.

66 comments:

Sarah said...

This is beautiful. Thank you.

Shoshanna said...

Thank you Katie, I needed to read this tonight. I have a newly adopted son, only 3, in renal failure, and I'm not ready. To be reminded that I don't need to be, that God already is, this is what I must cling to. May God richly bless you and your beautiful family in the year to come.

Lynette Schenk said...

This is beautiful and perfect for me to read as I think about the year behind and the year ahead. Thank you for sharing!
Lynette

Tim F said...

Hello, and thank you. We just sent a small Christmas gift just now. Just want to make sure it goes to you and the children you are caring for and loving on!

Sian said...

What a wonderful reminder of our wonderful Savior! I come from the suburbs, like you did, Katie; and I need to remember that Jesus came for the messes of life, too, not just the carpeted bedrooms and mown lawns.I will remember better, thanks to you and the example you set.

Sarah said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

beautiful, yet again Katie. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family.

Anonymous said...

never thought of the birth quite like this...but oh so true...thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Savior's birth to open my eyes to the reality of it all.

Marty Stoltzfus said...

You inspire me. Your faith and trust in Almighty God and your willingness to to follow where He leads touch me. I believe this should be the testimony of all Christians. I lived in Kenya, Africa for two years of my life. Part of my heart is still there but God called me on to other areas of service. I want to bless you as you continue to serve Him. May you have a Blessed Christmas as you continue to reflect upon God and His Gift to mankind.

Marty Stoltzfus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marty Stoltzfus said...

You inspire me. Your faith and trust in Almighty God and your willingness to to follow where He leads touch me. I believe this should be the testimony of all Christians. I lived in Kenya, Africa for two years of my life. Part of my heart is still there but God called me on to other areas of service. I want to bless you as you continue to serve Him. May you have a Blessed Christmas as you continue to reflect upon God and His Gift to mankind.

Even Miracles said...

Beautiful- just like you and your heart.
Merry Christmas
Ally

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you!

To Him be all glory!

Tammy blachura said...

Beautifully said. May we all open our eyes to these words. To think about what is most important in our lives. Thanks Katie,you are so inspiring.

Living Well said...

I love the last sentence in your blog today Katie - what a great confidence rests in that thought, that God is ready for 2014 ... Even if we aren't . What a blessing that is. Keeping you in prayer - blessed Christmas tomorrow to you and yours.

Madison said...

Blessed and encouraged by your heart and words and example, Katie. Thank you.

-Madi

Stephen and Bets said...

Keep Him in the front of you life and thoughts, He will see you through. Thank you for being honest, with how it really is.
Praying that He will give you the needed strength - minute by minute!
your sister in Christ,
Betsy

Debbie said...

Amen.

Gina D said...

What a beautiful post. Praise God for His mercy and goodness, for His son Jesus :)

Merry Christmas, Katie!

Sweet Annabelle said...

A timely word in season for me! Thank you for this gift on Christmas Eve. God bless you as you continue your work.

Nancy Rowe said...

May God bless you and your precious family this Christmas season. Thanks for sharing so much with the rest of us, so we all have more HOPE wherever we are in our world too!

Nancy Rowe said...

Merry Christmas to you and your precious family. Thanks for sharing your Spirit-filled words so we all have more HOPE in our world too!

Nancy Rowe said...

Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your Spirit filled words with us all, so we all have more HOPE in our world

Cliff and Deb said...

Dear Katie,
We are humbled and so thankful that He came in His time and not in ours, and in a way we would never have chosen. His ways are perfect. We pray that you, the girls and all you love so faithfully will have a wonderful Christmas, full of His love and presence.

Cliff and Deb said...

Trying again, I apologize if this comes through twice.

Dear Katie,
We are humbled and so thankful that He came in His time and not in ours, and in a way we would never have chosen. His ways are perfect. We pray that you, the girls and all you love so faithfully will have a wonderful Christmas, full of His love and presence.

Sarah of the Jones family said...

LOVE this post, Katie. You have such a gift with words -- able to put exactly what's on my heart onto paper/screen. When I can't do it myself. Thank you for your transparency and for the beautiful reminder that our God loves us, despite our messes. Merry Christmas!!

Sweetly Broken Girl said...

I just found your blog. Interested in reading more. It sounds like you have some amazing experiences to share. Feel free to check out my blog at sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com. God bless you and the life you are living for Him. - Heather

Jules Bertagnolli said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS KATIE. you are my inspiration and I pray for you every single day. I hope you and all of your girls have an amazingly merry christmas. I hope to be like you one day.

Jules Bertagnolli said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS KATIE. you are my inspiration and i pray for you and your little angels every single day. i hope to be like you one day. helping others is what i was created to do. thank you for starting the fire i needed in my heart to follow Him. thank you for teaching me that if Jesus comes into my heart it will explode, and in that explosion, others will be able to see the light of Christ. I love you so much!!!! I look to you as a spiritual mother! Merry Merry Christmas Katie!!!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Exactly what I've been feeling lately. We are never ready but He is, and that's very good news because could we ever really be ready on our own? Merry Christmas Katie, and Happy New Year! <3 from the states!

J. Mijares said...

Well said, Katie. The imagery you used is haunting, and would be no less haunting if it were in the loneliness of the urban sprawl, or vast expanse of the wilderness.

When God wants us to move, we should definitely be ready. Always be watchful and ready to move when and where the Spirit leads.

Merry Christmas!

Denise Ross said...

So eloquently said. He does meet us right in the middle of our messy lives. Merry Christmas x

Emily said...

thank you for this.

Carolina :o) said...

Katie, I don't even know how to express the impact that this post has caused in my heart. Miles away from home in America I'm spending my Christmas mostly alone around people that know or understand very little of its meaning. I was feeling so hurt, so lost, being a missionary brings forth so many new challenges. I cried, ugly cried through your post and I am encouraged to know that God is ready for what He is and will do through me. Thank you for your open heart to share. Bless you for your love of the lost, and may God bless and keep your children healthy. Blessings and love from Taiwan!

Meme said...

You know Katie how you describe the intense love you were given for Uganda, its people, and especially your children: how that love blinded you to their blemishes, diseases, and dirt that caked their little bodies? Well I think that is but a microcosm of the love Jesus had/has for us that He was willing to come to earth, giving up heaven and His glory, to become like us in our dusty flesh.

Deborah said...

God used you once again to touch my heart! I will use this as my families Christmas devotional before breakfast. Thanks Katie for giving me a new perspective on being ready! How quick we forget that nothing is more important as knowing God has always been ready for us since the beginning of time and all He wants is for us to come to Him as we are!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this message Katie. What a beautiful Christmas gift you have given me.

Dave T said...

I can't describe how much of a blessing your writings are to many of us. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used by God. Thank you for blessing and inspiring other by your writings. Merry Christmas

Noelle said...

You are an inspiration ever and always. I really needed to hear this!
Thank you, Katie, for sharing the beautiful words God gives to you. Much prayer and blessings to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, Katie! God has given you a gift to be able to express things so well...How true this post is. Many times we make Jesus birth-and our daily lives- seem to look so picture perfect and mess free. But God comes in the midst of it all. I love the thinking that God is ready, even if we are not.

All in His Perfect Timing said...

Thank you for sharing the realness of Jesus' birth in descriptions where I can vividly see just what it was like ... no clean, perfect scene like we are used to. Thank you for that.

jecpanda said...

Isn't that the truth. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for letting God use you and for sharing that with the world.

Brianna DaSilva said...

Beautiful and timely. So encouraged by the life that you live in obedience and hard-work, yet full of love and joy! Many blessings to you Katie!! God is working through you in Uganda, and through the words of your blog to touch the hearts of people all over the globe. God is awesome!

Anonymous said...

beautiful picture. beautiful words.

Margo@Legacy of a Single Girl said...

Katie, this is awesome and brave and true and vulnerable. And this: "He entered into the mess"...oh that makes my heart jump! He did that! For us. God bless you dear girl....you are always lifted up in prayer!

Nicole L. said...

God has given you a gift with the words you write. Thank you so much for it.

B Dowling said...

Katie,
Apologies for being super practical with this comment, but if you attend these types of birth routinely, you should know that you can use a candle to burn through the umbilical cord. This is a sterile method that will prevent infection that could be caused by using "anything sharp." It's also cheap and generally available. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to burn through and doesn't smell great, but is by far the best thing to do in these situations! Just thought you should know :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I needed this reminder. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Joseph was an old man

james hess said...

I sent you an email via my husband's email address and realize that because it has his picture and not mine, that it might look as if someone might be trying to scam you. This is what I wrote:

Hi Katie,

My name is Sarah. I am 32 years old, and have felt a call to love on orphans and help women in Africa, since I was 15. A strong strong call that lead me (because of counsel) to become a nurse. Right now, I serve mothers and their babies right after birth. I married a man who has felt a similar strong call form the Lord to missions in Africa. He was told by the Lord to go into the US ARMY for leadership training. We married when I finished nursing school and he later went into business school, because he thought it was the right thing to do. Anyway, my heart ACHES everyday, because I am tried of preparation and want to DO WHAT WE ARE CALLED TO DO!! We have four children: ages 7, 7 (twins), 4, and 2. I want my children to be Jesus' hands and feet. I want to love on the children I promised I always would.

When I was 17, right after graduating high school, I went on a month long mission trip to South Africa and Mozambique. It was life changing and I just can't live a normal life. I am damaged and wrecked by God's love for the children I saw there. I am destroyed by

I am not a normal mom that is "white picket fence" material. My heart has just grown stronger for my "other" kids and teaching my kids to let their hearts expand in love for brothers and sisters in Christ.

I was encouraged by a friend to contact you. They suggested that you might have a place for us, or know of an in road for us pursuing our call.

With Love in Jesus,
Sarah Mullins-Hess
https://www.facebook.com/sarah.mullinshess

I have to add this- I saw this post and just felt my heart connect with what God is doing there. I had all my children (even the twins) at home, where-ever we were living, and my heart has always wanted to be a help in whatever way God saw fit for laboring women in Africa .... and all their babies :) I have never understood how God would bring this about, but I hope and reach out.

-t- said...

We praise Him for His love and faithfulness. We praise Him for you and your trust in Him. Thank you for continuing to share your heart so that we may be encouraged and challenged. Your are a treasure to Him and to us too. Our love and prayers, the fantastic five (together, in Him alone)

Lynne Gann said...

How does one so young feel so much, have great wisdom & display incredible humility? One word - God. Through our Lord Jesus Christ you have allowed Him to penetrate your heart & have laid down your life & taken the mind of Christ. That is what we as believers are commanded to do. You are touching many lives & only God can go into the mess & love the filthy, dirty places inside of us. Thank you for allowing God to so fill you & use you so greatly! Love you heart. Can't wait to meet you & talk with you in Heaven if not before!

Happy New Year

Unknown said...

As so many of us in the Church spend our lives going after the American dream, to live clean, comfortable lives with all of the material things we can get, some have made the difficult decision to forsake it all and serve where God has called us. No, He doesn't call us all to overseas service. And He doesn't call us all to full time "ministry" but He does call us all to die to self and live for Him. You r clearly blessed for following Him, ready or not!-:)

Unknown said...

As so many of us in the Church spend our lives going after the American dream, to live clean, comfortable lives with all of the material things we can get, some have made the difficult decision to forsake it all and serve where God has called us. No, He doesn't call us all to overseas service. And He doesn't call us all to full time "ministry" but He does call us all to die to self and live for Him. You r clearly blessed for following Him, ready or not!-:)

Dwight Clough said...

Well said

Anonymous said...

A beautiful word, Katie.

You talk about clinging to His feet through the messiness of life... the Lord gave me Psalm 16:8, "I have set the Lord in front of me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."
This has helped me walk the journey of my 18 yr. old son accidentally drowning 4 yrs. ago, as he was counseling at a Christian camp. The Lord has said, "Focus on Me who gives you LIFE, knowing I AM
right beside you, and all your trembling will stop and you will have rest for your soul." God has given me visions of him in Heaven also which have given me peace and joy.
I wasn't ready for my son to die, but God's grace has been more than sufficient for me...just as His grace is so evident in your God-glorifying life! Blessings! :)

Julee said...

Katie, Love your heart and your ministry, loved your book, hope another one is being penned so we can read about what God is doing there. I hope to at least visit there and see first hand of all that you have spoken, blessings, from a sister in Texas at His feet. Julee

Gary Holland said...

Isn't it lovely, knowing you've been used by your Father. Please hug all of your babies for us? :)

Anonymous said...

I was contemplating God's calling for me. And in church this morning our Pastor had us repeat three simple words. Here and now. To be content and living fully in the calling of God, here and now. And I struggle with that. My Jesus wants me here and now? Just me? I get caught up in preparing for every little thing and I never quite seem to be adequate or ready. But I love how you've brought it back to Christ. He's ready for the messy me, that's totally inadequate, thats unprepared. That needs and desires His strength. He wants my dependency to be in Him and in Him alone. I love following your story. Thank you for being that example of Christ's love and calling.

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Anonymous said...

I just finished your book today Katie and have found your life inspirational.
Just last night at Bible study we looked at The Great Comission in Matthew 28:16-25. And Jesus' words to "Go and make deciples of all men...teaching them to OBEY everything I have taught you."
It is wonderful to see you doing that and urging us to do the same.
I love the way you bring Jesus' words and relationships to life. So real. So relavent for today. Peter findinding the coins in the fishes mouth, Jesus surprises & delights.
And this rebelling of the Christmas story. Fantastic. He enters a messy world in a messy way to offer a Way.
I hope you won't mind if I share your words with my Bible Study group this coming Christmas. I feel it would be very helpful to them.
Thanks
Katie Todd
Australia

Anonymous said...

I love you heart warming story. As I read your book it just inspired me and I love your passion for God!

Chandni Patel said...

Katie,
I really don't know what to say except that your obedience to God's plan for your life is amazing and has truly been an inspiration to me. My name is Chandni Patel and I am 23 yrs old and just graduated from pharmacy school this May and work for Walgreens. I fully surrendered my life to following Christ 2 years ago. My life has been completely transformed and renewed by His power, love, mercy, and grace. So much so that it's actually hard for me to find other true disciples of Christ to fellowship with. Since when did actually reading the Bible and living it out become classified as radical in this world? So I'm a radical. For Christ. And I love it. My first mission trip was to Nepal last October and then Haiti in December. It has completely changed my life. My heart for missions, as is God's heart (don't understand when other believer say "oh you just have a heart for that") is growing deeply and I just daydream about my future life in another country with about 13 kids :) I LOVE kids. Currently serve in the kids department at my church and I can't get enough. My heart just breaks though because I am constantly thinking about kids abroad who don't have anything. I want to be their something. My plans are currently to pay off my student loans (which I am blessed and shouldn't be long) and then I'm leaving! I don't know where I'm going yet. Nepal? Has a special place in my heart since it was my first mission trip. But then Africa keeps coming to mind and heart often. My mentor has a huge burden for the orphans in Africa (was in process of adopting two but plans fell through due to some circumstances and she's heart broken). We are going to take a trip to Uganda in July 2015. After that I feel I should have more confirmation if I'm being called to Uganda or Nepal. I don't know how many people actually write you and tell you they are also leaving the comfortable life they know and surrendering it all to God. I'm sure you get a lot of "you're amazing I could never do what you're doing. God bless you". I can only imagine lol. It's frustrating because I get that now just about how I live my life and that's just being obedient to Christ. I also don't know how many people write you and tell you that they are also planning on moving their entire life abroad for the glory of Christ and are actually serious about it. I am. I am an outcast in my Hindu family and I have basically had to break my mom's heart about a lot of things. I choose Jesus. I hate it when people say "oh I feel so bad for you it must be so hard with your family" and I'm like "Don't feel bad for me! I LOVE being an outcast for Jesus!" Anyways, I just wanted to share that giving up a closer relationship with my mom for Jesus is how I know I am ready to give up anything for Him. I take the "leave your mother and father..." verse very seriously. After paying off my loans, I was going originally try to save a little before moving. I'm assuming you have sponsors that support you and your parts are helping a lot financially correct? I won't have that. But I know my Father will provide more than any earthly parents could. I just get nervous sometimes thinking of the fact that I may not be able to have enough to care for so many kids and for them to receive proper care. But I know that's just satan. I kindly would like to ask for some encouragement from you. I KNOW this is what I'm called to do. I'm excited that I'm leaving everything I know in exchange for just Jesus. It's scary at times thinking about it, but at the same time beautiful. My mom doesn't know yet. Praying for her salvation. Will you pray too? Lastly, would I be able to meet you if I came to Uganda in July? I would love to see your beautiful face. If you will also send me all 13 names of your kids I would love to pray for them. Hope you get to at least read this. I love you!
Your Sister in Christ,
Chandni

Anna Fuelberth said...

Dear Katie you are a inspiration to me. You have inspired to me to want to start a service community in my community for young girls