The Reason Behind the Name

Recently I changed my blogging site and with that came a new name.

There were a few reasons I decided to change the blogging website and get a personalized domain, but they all come back to sharing. I want to share my life with my family, who lives so far away. I want to share my life with the wonderful friends who are praying for Team Huancayo and financially supporting our efforts. I want to share my life with those who dream of their own futures and are looking for inspiration.

I remember being in high school and being interested in attending ACU. One day while I was doing some research on what ACU offered, I came across a blog two girls wrote during their study abroad semester in Uruguay. They talked about fun things they did and interesting encounters they had with people. They shared pictures and videos to help their experiences come to life for people who weren’t able to be there. In the end, their blog is what fully convinced me to attend ACU with the hopes of studying abroad in Montevideo, Uruguay. Who would’ve thought I’d end up spending two semesters in that beautiful country?

I had attempted to share my experiences like those two girls did with my last blog, but wasn’t very successful. I had that blog for 3 years but only updated a handful of posts. During that time I interned as a missionary for 2 months in Costa Rica, studied abroad in Uruguay for 2 semesters, and took a couple of work trips to Huancayo, Peru. Yet there isn’t much on the blog to show for it. I was too busy learning how to process all that I was experiencing myself.

It’s like the different stages of learning. The first time you learn about something, you’re really only familiarizing yourself with it. You generally understand the concepts, but trying to explain them to someone who has never learned it before is like pulling tooth and nail. You just don’t know the material well enough to explain it in a way that makes sense yet. The more you learn, however, the better you grasp the details of the concepts. The better you grasp the details, the more you can explain them to others. In a way, that’s what these last few years of traveling abroad has taught me. Now I’m familiar with how my brain processes new things, and can better explain them to others. That is why this blog is dedicated to sharing.

The name of my previous blog was “to the ends of the earth.” It’s the last part of Acts 1:8 in the New Testament and holds a very deep meaning for me. So much, in fact, that it became my first tattoo when I was 18. To go everywhere and anywhere, to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the gospel. & being reminded in the journey that it’s not through your own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit that people receive the good news. Acts 1:8 reminds you of these things, but also that you’re not alone. That God has not abandoned you no matter how far away he may seem in the moment. It’s a very powerful verse.

I thought about keeping the same blog name for a while, but the more I thought about it, the more “calling” came to mind. You see, like most North American Christians I’ve thrown the word “calling” around a lot.

I’m called to go to ACU.
I feel called or led to speak to so-and-so.
God’s calling me to Huancayo, Peru
.

The more I reflect on how we use this word, the more I get the feeling we’re missing the bigger picture. We mostly equate calling to action. Whatever career we have or place we choose to live in becomes what God has called us to because we feel a certain amount of peace in the decision or perhaps an intense supernatural attraction to it. I’m not saying I don’t believe God doesn’t call us to do certain things, because I believe he does. However, I believe it’s secondary to what God calls all of us to.

More than calling us to go somewhere or do a certain thing, God calls us to be.

God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37
God calls us to love our neighbor like ourselves. Matthew 22:39
God calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Matthew 5:13-16

More than anything else, God calls us into a new character and identity in Christ. As Christians, this is what our life’s journey is all about.

& this is the reason for the new name of the blog, Calling Katie.

Journeys tend to be a little messy and often don’t go according to plan, but they always make a great story. So this is me, sharing my story with you.

Photo by Amanda Juillard

 

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Christmas in the Tropics

Can I get a Holly Jolly Christmas for one, please?

While I celebrated holidays growing up, the constantly changing family dynamics made it nearly impossible to have family holiday traditions. We had a few things we would try to do every year, but it was never a big deal if they were skipped for a year or two. That’s why when I went to college, I was amazed to hear about all of these Thanksgiving and Christmas family traditions. Some were centered around the kids while others were centered around Scripture. It was fascinating to see the excitement in my friends’ faces when they talked about the holidays. Slowly but surely, that same excitement started to grow inside me. The last two years of holidays spent with family included longer conversations and family games. A huge difference from the post-meal communal nap we all used to take!

My roommates throughout the years also enjoyed decorating for the holidays.

Thanksgiving? Let’s throw up a “I’m thankful for…” wall.
Christmas? A mini Christmas tree and lots of tinsel.
Valentine’s Day? Pink and heart shaped candy everywhere!

I come from a family where the Christmas tree stays up year round or doesn’t get put up at all. Now I will say, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with not decorating or not celebrating holidays con mucha fuerza. There’s a difference in values and that is A-Okay. I have noticed though, that when I am in an environment decorated for the holidays, my spirits are lifted. It adds more excitement to the home and everyday routine. If there is one thing I love, it’s definitely excitement. So I am very thankful for being surrounded by friends who have taught me how to be excited about holidays.

But now I live alone in a different country and am forced to figure out how to carry this excitement sola.

It seems like my two pasts are trying to figure out how to coexist. I want to decorate for the holidays, but what’s the point when there’s only one person living in the house? Am I really going to just hang up one stocking that will never even be filled? I’m pretty sure that would be more depressing than not having a stocking put up at all. What about other Christmas decorations? I just can’t make myself buy all of these Christmas decorations that I’ll only use for one year. Since I’m in between countries right now, it’s harder to justify buying holiday decorations.

So how do I experience the excitement of holidays while living alone?

The answer, my friends, is community.

When Halloween rolled around, I decided I wanted to throw a Halloween party with some other single expat friends who I went to Spanish school with. To get ready for the party, two sweet friends helped me decorate the entire apartment. It was awesome! At least half of those decorations stayed up until December, but hey, progress right?

The first week of December I moved into a new apartment. The owner of the apartment, who lives in the house below it, is very kind and communal. She’ll often ask how I’m doing and even brought me up some food my first week here. My second week living here, she brought up a bunch of Christmas decorations and helped me decorate the apartment.

What a joy to be surrounded with such a thoughtful community.

I’m thankful that this year I’ll actually be able to spend Christmas with my family, but I’m also thankful that I’ve been able to experience the joy of the Christmas season while living alone in the tropics.

What are some of your favorite family holiday traditions? Share below in the comments!

On Leaving Family

This was posted on my previous blog on August 28,2015


As I was walking home from the Spanish Institute a half hour ago I was reflecting on the feelings of loneliness I’ve been experiencing. These feelings weren’t unexpected or unfamiliar. They’re also not always intense. Yet they’re often there. I’m not a TCK (third culture kid) and will never know what it’s like to be one, but I understand the feeling of not belonging. I have a colorful childhood and while I can explain that to close friends, they still don’t understand what it’s really like to have lived through it. For those close friends who do understand what it’s like to come from a broken family, not many of them can relate to the restoration of relationships Christ has brought about through the years.

Still even less are able to relate to the tragic loss of a loved one at a young age. The more I began to think about being alone, the more I realized the most known I have ever felt among other people was when I was with my family. While they may not be able to understand the cross-cultural experiences I’ve had over the past four years, they’ve been with me through the most challenging things.

They know me.

They get me.

They understand me.

They accept me.

& I have left them.

I am certain that God has called me to this mission team and to Peru. I am filled with joy being here in Costa Rica right now with my teammates and being around my hermanos in the church here once again. If I could go back to when I made all of the decisions that led to this moment with his team for this purpose, I would choose the same path without wavering. Yet this path is the hardest one I could’ve chosen, and it’s because of my family. My family means more to me than almost everything in this world. So yes, leaving them is hard. But it’s not leaving them that is the hard part. It’s knowing that this is the first major life event that they are not able to share with me that is heartbreaking. I can tell them what it’s like and they’ll get glimpses when they visit, but they won’t be able to fully understand. Just like I won’t be able to fully understand what they’re going to go through back home.

I’m thankful for our God who vows we will never be alone. I’m thankful for having a family so wonderful that I can’t help but grief the loss of their nearness. I’m thankful for the wise men and women who have tried to prepare me for this moment. I am thankful for the pastor who last left me with these encouraging words: “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.'” Mark 10:29-30