Our Little Work at the Edges of the Stars

For the past few months, I’ve been participating in women’s leadership school with my church. Each week we have readings and teaching on different topics — the Trinity, evangelism, friendship, etc. This past week was focused on the Sabbath. You may remember that I’ve blogged before about my growing love for keeping the Sabbath, which is decidedly my favorite commandment, though I’ve only come to appreciate it in the past few years. [Maybe having a favorite commandment is weird, but I love this one because I have a terrible tendency to picture God as one who tsk-tsks me about all the work I haven’t finished yet. (This is primarily because I tend to tsk-tsk myself about all the work I haven’t finished yet, and then I attribute it to him.) The Sabbath commandment reminds me that the call of God is not a call to work harder.]

Last week, in prep for teaching on the Sabbath, we read a chapter of Andy Crouch’s book Playing God. One sentence struck me in such a way that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I found myself rereading it each morning this week before starting my day:

I made this image to use as my computer wallpaper this week. (The background is taken from the Hubble photo of Andromeda!)   To download the full version for your computer, click here!

I made this image to use as my computer wallpaper this week. (The background is taken from the Hubble photo of Andromeda!) To download the full version for your computer, click here!

“At the edges of the vast fields of stars we do our little work, sowing what we could never have provided for ourselves and harvesting what we have not sown.”

What a sentence. 

It reminded me of two things — first, of a Hubble Space Telescope photo I’d seen circulating on the Internet a couple of months ago. At 1.5 billion pixels, the composite photo was heralded as the largest ever pieced together. It showed what Crouch had described: a vast field of stars — literally 100 million of them — a chunk of Andromeda, the galaxy next door. (Apparently we can photograph Andromeda because it is a mere 2.5 million light-years away.) Though enormous, it is tiny in the scheme of things — one of more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe. 100 BILLION.

Second, the sentence reminded me of Isaiah 40, which I used to read over and over again in grad school. (When you’re seeing the world wrong, Isaiah 40 will correct you, and if you’re stressed, you’re seeing the world wrong, so naturally grad school lent itself to this chapter.) Here's a snippet, but you kind of have to read the whole chapter to get the full effect:

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? …. ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

I can’t wrap my head around the idea that there is a being big enough to call forth 100 million stars by name — just in that one snippet of one neighbor galaxy. Or, crazier still, that there are 100 billion other galaxies that we know of whose stars he also calls forth by name. When I think about it, I feel positively microscopic. Infinitesimal.

It’s tempting to call this sense of my own smallness disorienting. Give me a glimpse at another galaxy, and suddenly I lose my frame of reference. But, in truth, I think it’s the opposite. Recognizing the vastness of the universe is actually reorienting. It causes me to realize I’ve been seeing things all wrong. When my perspective is corrected, I realize I’m far smaller than I like to pretend. When my perspective is corrected, I feel compelled to get down on my knees, to get down in the dust where I belong.

Until now I’ve loved the Sabbath for its reminder of the gospel truth that my work isn’t that important. Everything that ever really needed to get done got done — 2,000 years ago. It’s okay — nay, good! — to take a day off specifically to rest in the completed work of Christ. It’s okay if the laundry waits until Monday. The Lord’s got stuff under control. The world will keep spinning even if my washing machine doesn’t.

But I think I’m only now beginning to realize that the gospel changes more than just the significance of my work. It changes the scope of my work and the purpose of my work, too. What is huge to me is tiny to the Lord. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to him; it just means that it’s not daunting to him. The projects that seem so overwhelming to me, so beyond what I am capable of, are dust in the dust in the dust of his hands. I do my little work at the edges of his vast fields of stars, and just the act of working — of using the gifts he’s given me — is glorifying to him.

I got the crazy idea a few months ago to write a book — not for the sake of writing a book (that sounds miserable) but because a book had started to write itself in my head without my consent. While I was still in the I-kind-of-want-to-do-this-but-don’t-think-I-have-what-it-takes stage, other people who didn’t even know about the book in my brain started telling me to write a book about the very topic I couldn’t shake. So I started writing it. Even though I’m working full-time. Even though it feels like a freaking huge undertaking.

(I’m almost hesitant even to mention my fetus of a book on the Internet. I’ve read both that you should never tell people that you’re writing a book because then they’ll see you fail and that you should always tell people you’re writing a book because the accountability will force you to finish. So I won’t tell you a lot, but I will tell you that I’m working on it and that that’s part of the reason I have been less present on this blog as of late. Oh, also, it’s nonfiction, and, no, it’s not about grammar. I’ve talked to a fair number of people about this book in real life, so it’s not exactly a secret, but this is all the info the Internet gets for now.)

Here’s the thing, though, about me and book-writing: I feel compulsion and fear in equal measure. On one hand, I want to write this book. I think maybe I’m supposed to write it — or at least supposed to try. On the other hand, I don’t think I have what it takes. I could potentially spend years researching and reading and writing and, one day down the road, realize I’ve gotten myself in way over my head. Nothing about this undertaking feels like a sure thing.

This week, though, as I thought about the true scope and purpose of my work, I found myself worrying less about how this project will turn out. I found myself focusing instead on two things: first, that a book is not big to the God who spoke 100 billion galaxies into existence and calls their stars by name, and, second, that God never asked me for a book in the first place. He never looked at me and asked me for results or a finished product of any kind. He only asked me to be faithful with the gifts that he has blessed me with, to steward the seeds and the land that he has lent to me.

If I base my willingness to be faithful on the likelihood that my faithfulness will result in fruitfulness, I’m not being faithful at all. So I will write. I will spend my early mornings working on what may, in a few years, turn into a book or what may, in a few years, end up on an extra hard drive in a desk drawer, never to be printed, bound, or read. And I will trust that the willingness to use my gifts is honoring to God. I will trust that he is glorified by my little work at the edges of his vast fields of stars, even though he doesn’t need my crops.

Getting Lost in Louisville

This is one of those posts in which I try to make up for lost blogging time by mushing a bunch of mini-posts together. (Mini-posts are becoming my M.O.) Here are some snippets of my life lately:

1. I have a job!

Lovin’ my cute desk and my   November wallpaper  . It is an accurate description of how I feel about my new job.

Lovin’ my cute desk and my November wallpaper. It is an accurate description of how I feel about my new job.

As part of my ongoing attempt to be a grown-up, I have taken a job. I am the marketing coordinator for a company that is based in West Virginia and has additional offices in Louisville and St. Louis. This job is roughly 1000% better than I expected my first job to be. My day-to-day is a mixture of writing, design, editing, planning, and teamwork.

I have this idea that God looked down at me and rubbed his chin and said, "Hmm, Kate needs a job in Louisville. How about I give her THE ABSOLUTE BEST JOB FOR HER IN THE WHOLE CITY?"

I hope to blog more about my job soon, mainly to offer hope to the frazzled, weary students who are too frequently told, "This is the most freedom you'll ever have! Enjoy it now!" Take heart! That's hogwash.

2. I have roommates!

Roomies Jamie, Rachel, and Becca + their froomie Liz (who moved out to get married but who is still an honorary member of the house) and   moi

Roomies Jamie, Rachel, and Becca + their froomie Liz (who moved out to get married but who is still an honorary member of the house) and moi

I live with three other girls in a big ol' house in Louisville. Having just moved out of a house with three girls whom I adored in Columbia, I considered living with three girls to be my dream arrangement, and that is exactly what I ended up with.

I'm pretty sure that when God was rubbing his chin about my job, he also said, "And she needs roommates, so how about I put her in the ABSOLUTE BEST ROOMING ARRANGEMENT FOR HER IN THE WHOLE CITY!?"

Two of my roomies are moving to Boston in the spring, and I'm already sad about it.

3. Louisville is super confusing.

Well, hello, giant man at the mall.

Well, hello, giant man at the mall.

I got lost literally every time I left my house for the entire first week that I lived here. Now, having lived here for almost four weeks, I can say that I only get lost about 40% of the time. I blame my lostness on the fact that we fell back to EST three days after I moved, so I've done a large portion of my new-city-navigating in the dark.

4. I picked the right time to move...

because Louisville just got an H&M! Who wants to make a weekend trip to stay with me and shop at H&M!?

See that cute leopard scarf I'm wearing up in that picture above? Yeah, FIVE DOLLARS at H&M. It's bad stewardship not to buy a $5 leopard print scarf.

5. I still miss Missouri.

My heart hurts just to mention it. I can't wrap my head around the fact that I've been gone half a year. I remember visiting Columbia when Jane moved there in August, and I cried to my small group and said I needed a job and friends in Louisville, and I know they have prayed for me. I still feel the effects of my church there in so many ways.

When people ask me where I moved to Louisville from, I never know what to say. I think I say Versailles half of the time, and I say Columbia half of the time.

6. Versailles is only an hour away. 

You know what's nice? This year I will drive ONE HOUR home to Versailles for Thanksgiving instead of EIGHT HOURS. I have this personal goal to feel as though I live in both Lexington and Louisville, and I have three trips home planned for the next month, so I think I am succeeding at this goal.

7. I'm going to Sojourn. 

I'm getting plugged in, and I've joined a small group there. I like Sojourn because the gospel. It feels so overwhelmingly large at this point, but yesterday morning when I walked in, I found that one of the girls from my new small group was waiting for me in the lobby, and that just warmed my heart so much.

8. This is definitely a seminary town.

Approximately 80% of the people I've met in Louisville (and 100% of my roommates) either currently attend or have graduated from Southern Seminary. It is 70% intimidating and 30% fascinating.

It is not uncommon for our conversations to involve references to Wayne Grudem, John Calvin, complementarianism, heresy, and Albert Mohler.

(Addendum: I wrote those last two paragraphs of this blog on Saturday, and then Sunday I had lunch with my three roommates, and our lunchtime conversation culminated with each of us explaining how many points of T.U.L.I.P. we held to. There may also have been a copy of Systematic Theology brought to the kitchen table. It was like A CARICATURE of a conversation that seminarians would have. LOLOLOL.)

9.  I speak in abbrevs too much.

I never realized how ridiculous it sounds when I say BRB, JK, LOL, and IDK (and hashtag) until I caught myself saying them in the office. But part of my job is handling social media, so it's just fitting, right?

10. I am in room-decorating mode. 

My bedroom looks way too much like what I imagine nuns’ bedrooms look like. GOTSTA get some color.

My bedroom looks way too much like what I imagine nuns’ bedrooms look like. GOTSTA get some color.

Remember how in my very first post on this blog back in 2007 (!!!) I said that I had ordered a hot pink bedspread for my dorm room?

Well,I had that bedspread (and matching hot pink and lime green decor) all through college and grad school, and I got a little hot-pink-and-lime-green-ed out. I know you are all shocked.

In thinking about decorating my new room here, I realized I wanted white. All white. It's so calming and peaceful and clean. So I bought a white bedspread. And, y'all, I highly recommend. It makes me feel as though I'm sleeping in a marshmallow.

Unfortunately, though, a white bedspread + a white desk + a white chair + a white dresser = a room that looks far starker than I'd expected. So I'm on the lookout for coral and gray accents, but I'm having trouble finding them, seeing as it is NOVEMBER, and retailers aren't crazy about the coral this time of year. If anybody knows where a girl can order a coral throw and some coral pillows up in here, let a sister know.

11. My legs are still cranky. :(

Oh, my heart.

Pink skin and taped knees after a chilly run. When you see runners happily jogging down the road, please think of me and pray for my little aching knees. :(

Pink skin and taped knees after a chilly run. When you see runners happily jogging down the road, please think of me and pray for my little aching knees. :(

Many of you know that I've slowly been returning to running after several years of being sidelined by chronic leg pain.

That old pain that I dealt with in high school and college is almost completely gone. (PTL!) But in trying to get back into running, my knees (which had never before been the problem) have given me a lot of pain on and off. Right now, the pain is on. I wrapped up five more weeks in physical therapy this summer before my move, and I'm not sure how much it really helped.

(Interjection: Does anyone know a physical therapist I could marry? That sounds like a joke, but I'm kind of serious. I just need my own personal PT who's stuck with me for the rest of his life. I've been through ten in recent years. At least give me an honorary doctorate in physical therapy. Something.)

When my knees feel good, I'm so hopeful about how far I've come and about my plans to run until I'm 100 years old. But when my knees hurt, I just want to curl up in a ball and weep. I so quickly revert back to that little 15-year-old girl who had too many doctors tell her they didn't know what was wrong. My head knows it's a different injury, but my heart doesn't.

I just want to run. I just want to run. These years of leg pain have been my greatest sadness.

12. The Lord is good.

Even when I am in pain.

Anticipating life in a new job and a new city was horribly frightening to me, especially before I knew where I'd be working and whom I'd be living with. I wrote a blog post about my fearfulness, but it was a million years long, and I never ended up publishing it. I may still post it after the fact.

I prayed all summer for a job and for roommates, and the Lord one-upped my prayers by giving me crazily more than what I had asked for. But I have prayed for nine years that the Lord would heal these legs so I could run again, and the Lord's answers have mostly been confusing. Why bother healing me the first time if you were just going to let me get hurt again, God? I ask that question a lot.

But this is what I know: I know that God has always provided for me. I know that he has provided the aforementioned job and roommates as well as every other blessing in my life. I know that he always has more provisions up his sleeves. (Does God have sleeves?) I know that he loves to heal and that he has the ability to heal my legs with a word. With a thought. And I know that if he isn't doing it, he must have a really good reason for not doing it. He withholds no good thing from me. So I will keep praying, and I will keep crying, and I will keep running on the good days, and I will keep hoping and expecting that the Lord has something good up those figurative sleeves of his.

13. This song is on repeat. 

I heard this Matt Maher song on Pandora recently, and I've been listening to it on repeat ever since. I went to go get the YouTube link for y'all to listen to it and realized he RECORDED IT WITH AUDREY ASSAD. Hello, she is my favorite singer! (Last night I actually dreamed I met Audrey Assad and hug-tackled her and said, "Your music changed my life!")

"My one defense / my righteousness / oh, God, how I need you"

14. You should go see About Time. 

It is so good on so many levels. I knew basically nothing about this movie before I saw it. (Didn't even know it was rated R until I was already sitting in the movie theater ... oops.)

Anyway, the trailer doesn't do it justice, but, y'all, this movie is so good. I am not normally a movie crier, but there were tears streaming, STREAMING, down my face by the time the credits rolled on this one.

I hated   Love Actually   and LOVED this movie.

I hated Love Actually and LOVED this movie.

I know what you're thinking: Rachel McAdams is on the cover, so the whole movie is probably about an unrealistic Hollywood touchy-feely romance, and she probably gets cancer and dies. You are so wrong. SO WRONG. On both counts.

This movie is about the man on the cover. (No spoilers here.) He learns that he, like all the other men in his family, can travel backward in time. I want you to pause with me right now and contemplate how you think this story will go. A man in a movie can go back in time and undo or redo things. I'm pretty sure that Adam Sandler was in a movie in which he could control time, and all I really remember from the trailer is that he used the power to slow-mo the lady jogger on the road and fast-forward his wife's talking. Eww. But that is a pretty typical Hollywood portrayal of men, right? If they're not totally unrealistic, perfect dreamboat Ryan Goslings, then they're lazy, selfish, and immature Adam Sandlers.

But the guy in this movie was just a normal, hard-working, nerdy guy who was faithful to his wife and loved his children and used his time traveling almost exclusively to love his family better. CUE TEARS. My friends and I all came out of the movie just really wanting to get married and have a million babies. For real. How often do Hollywood movies portray love as something that requires selflessness rather than something that justifies selfishness? LIKE NEVER. But this one does, which is why it is my new fave.

Anyway, go see this movie. I want to see it 10 more times.

p.s. It was rated R for legit reasons, so you may want to read a more detailed review before buying tickets, but I think the good stuff is redemptive enough that the movie is worth watching.

15. I will blog more soon. 

Now that I have verbally vomited my every thought onto the internet, it's time for me to sign off. I've gotten out most of the blog posts that piled up in my brain, but not all of them. Hashtag winky face.

Call the ringmaster

'cause I'm putting on a pretty impressive balancing act.

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via

Student, employee, intern, daughter, sister, friend ... I'll get back to you one of these days, blog.

According to Parkinson's Law,

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

This is especially true with me. I've only had one day of class, but somehow I feel booked solid.

Some people procrastinate so that they only have an hour to work, and, as a result, their work only takes an hour.

But I can't function that way. So I end up starting way in advance and spending six hours on a task that should take half an hour.

I'm already overwhelmed by what isn't done. Why is my new apartment still a mess!? Why haven't I studied for the GRE more? Why does my brain feel like applesauce?

It's like I only know how to get stuff done when I'm stressing about it. This is a problem.

In other news, I am happy to be back at college. I missed everybody a lot. I don't ever want to graduate. (I would just be happy never to do schoolwork again.)

It's been too long.

1. Sarah's b-day

Dear Sarah, I am sorry that your birthday poem’s late.
I thought of you on June 12 while I swam internet-less-ly in Cumberland Lake.
Can’t believe that you are already 21!
Here we are in 2nd grade, being cute and having fun!

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Remember all those times we’d hang out in your basement?
We’d play Pretty Pretty Princess and Crash Bandicoot, and eat ice cream (chocolate chip mint).
Correction: you’d play Crash Bandicoot, and I would sit and watch.
But that’s okay; I forgive you. (Your Crash skills were top notch.)

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Here we are at 8 years old. (I’m not quite sure what we’re doing.)
All the pillows indicate we’re in the old youth room, so I think it was a movie viewing.
Who knew then that you would become such a movie buff?
You now love your classic films and know all your cinema stuff!

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Here we are again at my fifth grade birthday party!
Your gel pens were my favorite gift; you would pick something fun and arty!
I digress to point out something humorous about this little pic:
Megan gave me a Family Christian Bookstores gift certificate!

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And here we are with Amy just a week before I moved to Kentucky.
Saying goodbye to you girls was totally yucky.
But then you did a happy thing and followed me right down here.
It was like the universe couldn’t function without our having each other near

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We graduated high school together, like kindergarten and fifth grade before.
But graduations aren’t over for us; we’ve still got one more!
Note to us: let’s never ever pose in front of a Pepsi machine again.
I promise not to if you promise not to. Forever and ever amen.

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I’m so glad we’ve stayed friends across the states and over the years.
To you – fab photographer, raconteur, and friend – I raise non-alcoholic cheers!
Confession: I looked up “raconteur” in the dictionary to make sure I used it right.
I want to see you when you return from Haiti because your pics will be quite a sight!

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So here we are, the two of us, in another six or seven decades.
Our hair will go gray, and our hearing will fail, but our friendship will never fade.
In case you’re wondering, you’re in the yellow, and I am in the pink.
I mean, come on, Sarah, what did you think?

2. The Bachelorette

I was dying during the Bachelorette on Monday. Kasey, you are insane.

Ridiculous moments like these are the reason I love this show.

"Yeah, it's pretty intense stuff."

Talk about painfully awkward hilarious.

These clips are just chock full o' golden soundbites.

"So you're gonna be the tattooed Bachelorette guy for the rest of your life. . ."

"I wanna guard and protect her heart." x 11,000

"All you guys are like diamonds in my heart; you're like my brothers."

"That hurts my heart, dude."

"They loved it. They thought it was a great, great, great addition to my life. They thought it was very inspiring. They thought it was very courageous, and they thought that, you know what, Kase? I can respect you for doing something like that."

This boy is living in a dream world. All his lines sound like they've been practiced in front of the mirror. If only I could find the clip in which he says, "This is my heart. Jump in. Stay a while. . ."

3. Houseboat trip

Had a blast at Betsy's houseboat for Emily's bachelorette weekend!

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The water felt perfect!

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Brides-to-be Emily and Laura were our bookends in this pic!

I used almost an entire bottle of SPF 55 in an attempt to keep my skin the way I like it. (What can I say? I was out of 75.)

4. Work

My little kids at work simultaneously crack me up and wear me out.

Some of my favorite quotations from the week:

"Dear Jesus, please do not go back to heaven, but stay in my heart." – 4-year-old boy during prayer

"Miss Kate, I've seen a real live dead bird before." – 5-year-old girl after I explained that we shouldn't pick up feathers that we find outside

"Oh, my gosh. I never seen this high heel in my whole– in time– in life. – 4-year-old girl going through the costume box

"When are you getting married, Miss Kate?" – 5-year-old girl

"You eat them with your eyes. Like this: blink, blink, blink." – 4-year-old boy on eye-drops

I felt like such a teacher earlier today.

One of my girls told me that her mom promised to get her a Hannah Montana watch when she learned to tell time. I got all concerned because I realized it would probably be at least another 3 years before she got taught this in school! Think of all the drama that Miley Cyrus stir up in the next 3 years! She's 17 now. Just how insane will she be at 20?

I knew that for my little girl to get her watch before Miley went so insane that parents wouldn't buy Hannah merchandise anymore, she would need to begin to learn to tell time right then.

So I scoured the room for supplies and managed to make a practice clock – complete with spinning hands – out of just a paper plate, some construction paper, a pipe cleaner, and some markers!

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I was so proud of it that I snapped a cell phone photo.

Let me tell you what; that girl is pretty doggone bright.

The telling-time thing was clicking for her after just a few minutes of practice! I tucked it away in her backpack for her to practice at home, so I'm hoping it won't be too long before she comes to school with her Hannah watch!