Lessons learned from “Kisses from Katie” & reflection at the beach

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Ahhh the beach! Such a magical, relaxing, peaceful, HOT, & wonderful place. We recently spent a week in Folly Beach, S.C. with Tyler’s family, filled with mainly time spent on the beach or time spent admiring the stunning view from our rental house. Everyone in the family had a book (or a few) they were engulfed in while hanging out on the beach. My sister in law Andrea spent the first two days obsessed over a book she just purchased called Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis Majors. We had both heard rave reviews about this account of Katie’s life in Uganda so once she finished it I jumped on the chance to read it for myself.

After graduating high school, young Katie Majors commits to living and working in an orphanage in Uganda for one year before returning to the states to attend college. Her heart belonged to Africa after taking a three-week mission trip during Christmas break of her senior year. Not long after arriving does this short-term commitment begin to turn into her forever home. Katie shares the incredible story of God’s working power in her to create Amazima Ministry and adopt 14 daughters at the age of 19! As a single teenager, newly living in a third-world country which might as well have been another planet, Katie courageously says YES to Jesus over and over again. Whether that looks like teaching over 100 kindergartens all of whom speak a different language, or sleeping in a room shared with a large rat, or painfully removing bugs & debris from children’s feet, or kissing the vomit/filth covered bodies of dying children to show them the love of Jesus, or inviting 140 school children to her house/yard every day to feed them multiple meals, give them baths, & praise the Lord… or adopting 14 girls, becoming an overnight single Mommy, knowing the reality that they could be taken from her anytime… Katie always says YES with a pure heart of love for Our Heavenly Father & His beloved people.

This book is beautiful, convicting, heart-breaking, joy-sustaining, hope-building, and best of all Jesus-glorifying in every single word. I laughed, cried, prayed & deeply reflected on my own obedience & love for Jesus as I read, captivated by every page.

Andrea and I discussed the book during our long drive back to Kentucky & shared many similar convictions, hopes, & takeaways.

Here are some lessons I learned reading “Kisses from Katie”:

 

*Love the one in front of you. When we are passionate about a cause or truth, it’s easy to be discouraged upon realizing that it is impossible to change the world overnight. ((Talking to myself here!)) Change starts by loving the one person placed in front of you during each minute, hour, day or week. We can only do as much as one person can do at a time (which is an incredible amount when Jesus is working through us) and we must be patient in the process. We are called to love & serve one person at a time and though that may feel small or unimportant, once that one person experiences the love of Christ their individual world is forever changed and now they are able to share that love with another person. Soon, this adds up! And the truth is, we can’t change the world anyway. Only God can. And He doesn’t have to use us to get it done. So, how amazing it is that He loves us enough to choose us to be His hands and feet! I am absolutely honored that my Father desires, asks, & calls me to love & serve & be some of the hands & feet that help carry out His plans.

 

*We are all called to a mission field, some are more obvious than others. We are not all called to live exactly like Katie, moving to another country full-time and operating a ministry. But we are all called to love orphans and widows, to care for the poor, to share the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth, & to love unconditionally. Wherever you are, right now, you have a mission field around you. Just because you aren’t living in Africa with 14 adopted children doesn’t mean your mission field is any less important than Katie’s. God loves ALL OF HIS PRECIOUS PEOPLE & He absolutely desires for 100% of them to be saved!! Shouldn’t we love and care about others this much? Shouldn’t we love even strangers enough that the mere thought of them spending eternity separated from their Daddy breaks our hearts? Maybe right now your mission field is your work office, maybe it is inside your own home in your own family, maybe it is witnessing to neighbors and friends, maybe it is praying for people in the stores and on the streets, maybe it is on social media where God has clearly asked you to share His faithfulness and light… and maybe it is ALL of these places and many, many more. Maybe for many of us it isn’t one specific place… I’m learning that EVERYWHERE I am IS the perfect place & opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

 

*We must stop turning a blind eye to the suffering of this world. Out of sight, out of mind is a comforting concept. We have the luxury of turning a blind eye to much of the suffering that happens in this world that is beyond our wildest imagination. But we have to stop this. What if it was your child starving with no food for days on end? What if it was your parent dying of HIV/AIDS living in a small hut made out of cardboard? What if it was your niece who was abandoned at birth, found barely breathing laying in animal feces, weighing four pounds at over 1 year old? Would we care then?! It’s easy to believe the lie that there is nothing we can do unless we are physically there to solve the problem…

 

*There is SO MUCH we can do to help those in need all over the world. Because the book is from an international perspective, I am talking about helping those in impoverished nations although there is even more we can do for helping the needy people in our own backyards. From the book,

“The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.”

If that does not convict your heart for adoption & foster care, I’m not sure what would. We have to do something! And no, I don’t believe adoption is the answer for everyone in every situation… there are countless programs that simply need us (the very very wealthy people of the world who waste money on soft drinks & expensive cable packages) to provide financially so that these people can have a chance to get an education, medical care, clothing & consistent food on their table. Giving is a sacrifice… just consider how much God sacrificed when he gave us His one and only perfect son so that we might have a chance at eternity!

Some of my favorite organizations are Food for the Hungry and O.V.I Children’s Hospital. And of course, Katie’s ministry Amazima is well worth your giving sacrifice.

Another way to make a difference in this world just through your daily life is to eat plant based. Okay, I know I write about this ALOT but it is potentially not only the healthiest way of eating for your own health it is also the best for the planet! We share one planet with the entire world. Americans live as though this one planet belongs to only us. Our excessive consumption of all goods, foods, gases, & resources is causing great destruction to this beautiful place we call home. Also, I agree with something Katie said in the book about how God did not create too many people and not enough resources to take care of them all. It is a matter of how we are using those resources… consider this:

  • We use 56 million acres of land for animal agriculture while dedicating only four million acres of land to growing produce;
  • A staggering 70 percent of grain in the U.S. is fed to farmed animals rather than to people (The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people — more than the entire human population on Earth);
  • It takes 4,200 gallons of waterPER DAY to produce a meat-eater’s diet. A plant-based diet uses only 300 gallons of water per day. Additionally, a whopping 70 percent of our domestic freshwater goes directly to animal agriculture;
  • All resources taken into account, one acre of land can produce 250 pounds of beef. Sounds pretty good, right? Not when you consider the fact that the same acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes or 53,000 pounds of potatoes. Check out onegreenplanet.org for more on this.

Also… we are spending exorbitant amounts of money of healthcare in the US to treat a majority of disease which are lifestyle driven/caused and need not exist. Coronary heart disease is our number one killer and does not have to exist! read more here https://nutritionstudies.org/abolishing-heart-disease/. Imagine what would happen if America adopted HEALTH PROMOTING diets and lifestyles… getting rid of the junk and actually making our bodies a priority. How many more people would we be able to help across this globe because we would be healthy enough to do the work? How many resources would be freed up and available to go to the people who actually need them most?

 

 

*True joy comes from intimately knowing Jesus. We will never find fulfillment any other way. Katie witnesses such intense, true, devout love for Jesus from the people who seem to have been “blessed” the least. Through her journey she realizes how the super “blessed” people in America who have everything they need and want, are missing that deep joy that comes from relying on Jesus. She sees how “the least of these” who literally have NOTHING are so filled in their souls that they are able to dance and laugh and sing in the face of horrific tragedy. I know I am guilty of trying to fill up on the things of this world rather than running to drink from the fountain that never runs dry. While I was reading this book the news reports of two more celebrity suicides were released. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ended their lives tragically. This is another example of people who appear to have everything and every reason to be happy… yet they weren’t. They were wrestling with demons and darkness. If only they had truly known the joy of Jesus are their strength they might still be here, using their platforms to spread His love.

 

*We must be willing to say YES. Jesus didn’t come knocking on Katie’s doorstep one day saying, “How about you come and work for me?” No! Katie read God’s word, made the conscious decision to be obedient to HIM, gave Him her heart and decided to say YES to whatever plans He had for her. He certainly carried her every single day and lead her to be in the place He wanted, meeting every specific person He had laid onto her path for a specific purpose. But, it took Katie saying YES and stepping out in faith for these things to happen. God has a plan for us all. He also gave us the power of free will. We have to choose obedience. We can choose to walk in His plans or to go our own ways. Brothers and sisters let us be courageous in stepping out of the comfortable boat, into the cold unknown water, trusting that Jesus will teach us how to walk upon it with Him.

 

*It is always better His way. Katie is faced with unspeakably hard challenge after challenge. Jesus is always there to bring her through it, even during those times when she could not fathom being able to carry on. I was BLOWN AWAY by her Jesus-filled heart which was able to say, “It was better this way” after having one of her 14 daughters taken away from her and given back to the biological mother who had abandoned her to die as an infant. Katie was crushed. I cannot even imagine having to say goodbye to a child who had become my own and watching her go back into a situation where she is not better off from a human standpoint. In time, God showed Katie great beauty in this plan and Jesus not only saved the little girl’s life but also, her mother’s. And because of that Katie can proudly share that it was better that way because two lives were changed by Jesus, not just one. Am I able to look upon the disappointments and sufferings in my own life and say “It was better this way”?

 

I could probably write my own book with the sheer number of lessons Jesus taught me while reading Kisses from Katie. Saying that I recommend this book to you is a gross understatement… you absolutely HAVE TO read it. I pray that as you meditate on Katie’s heart-wrenching story of Jesus and His love, your own heart would be overflowing with the realization of that love for you.

 

Sending you all my love and prayers!

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