A sunrise

Back in February I wrote a poem titled, Until Then. The opening line, “never wake before the sun rises” was a tribute to my emotional state at the time. It was a time in my life when I was unsure of the future, what I wanted or where I was going. While all of those things still remain true in some capacity, the last few months have been somewhat of a sunrise. I have felt myself beginning to see my world more clearly,

with open eyes, and an alert mind.

I don’t know that I could attribute this to one specific thing.

However, I will say being a Kindergarten teacher for the last 2.5 months (has it really only been that long?!) has rocked my world. I am teaching in a first-year, classical charter school in a struggling neighborhood. My students come from a world that all my life has been distant and unfamiliar to me. I have found in these last few months places of utter confusion and sometimes bitterness, but also so much sunlight. While I often find darkness where I am working, there is a light that is always shining through.

God is teaching me both dependence on him and dependence on myself through him. While the task at hand often feels impossible, little by little, he is teaching me that he has me right where he wants me. There are definitely days when I feel like throwing in the towel. Days when I think there is nothing that can be done for these students so why am I even trying?

And then quietly, a sweet smiling face will say to me, “Ms. Williamson, thank you for reading to us. I love you.”

I like to think of these moments as my small, everyday sunrises. And they aren’t just my sunrises, they are my students’ as well.

When I feel as if the night is never-ending (both for me and my sweet kinder-babies), I am reminded God is not only capable of, but he promises, a sunrise.

I will never forget you

When Darkness comes and surrounds you in the night
May you find the bright and only light. 
When you are silently alone the only voice you hear is death,
May you find Him whom to know is to love
and may he sooth you with the words of his mouth,
“How beautiful you are, my Beloved, and how Delightful!”
May you find in his presence, inconsolable joy.
Give Him your dirty rags and take His flawless robe.
May you see what he sees in you 
and listen to what he declares over you
“I will never forget you. 
Behold, I have engraved you on the
palms of my hands.”

My 2 cents on Atticus & ‘Watchman’

It seems most reviews of Go Set A Watchman, the newly released novel by Pulitzer Prize winner and author of To Kill A Mockingbird reveal only disapproval and disappointment.

I will go out on a limb here and say I really enjoyed the novel. Granted, Mockingbird was literarily superior, but Watchman was undeniably enjoyable.

I can understand being disappointed in Atticus; I was. My heart broke as I read the ugly revelations of where he had chosen to find himself in life and politics. It was difficult to watch as someone you loved and admired so dearly had essentially betrayed all he claimed to be. It was truly devastating. I found myself taking a break and walking to the kitchen sink with tears in my eyes as I tried to convince myself I must have read it wrong.

However, I’m not sure why that must lead me to be disappointed in the book itself. I was pleased with this “sequel.” I learned a valuable lesson by the end of it. Yes, I had to wrestle with my hate for and distrust of Atticus, along with Jean Louise. But in the end I found myself considering the words of Atticus himself, “You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I won’t condone the actions or decisions of Atticus but I know that hating him will do me no good. I can take the good he gave me in To Kill A Mockingbird for what it was, valuable, and continue learning in my own way.

I learned a valuable lesson, along with Scout:

I learned that no matter what another man’s opinion is, hating him will get me nowhere. Atticus may not be the old man we always hoped and dreamed he would be but we (Scout) can continue on in our convictions, loving him all the same. She made it clear to him how she felt, that she did not agree and never would, but she ended the day telling him she loved him. After all, that is what she is ultimately asking of him, to love unconditionally, all people. If Atticus were a real person in my life (and he might as well be) maybe the best thing I can do is accept that I will never understand why he chose the path he did, realize he was never god, and just keep loving him as a human. It is what I would want done for me.

Audeo: I dare, I risk

Katie and Kelly

It’s a very difficult thing in life to lose someone; possibly the most difficult thing. There is so much that goes unanswered and unexplained. We are left to simply accept the harsh reality that we have no power over what has happened and we never will. For some, this is a numbing and impossible feeling to overcome, and understandably so.

One year ago today a dear friend of mine was taken from this life and into the next. I can still remember, so clearly, waking up to the 7am phone call and hearing my big brother’s shaking voice on the other end, “something really bad happened, Katie, and I am so sorry.” The next few days were a blur. I ran out on my college finals just days before graduation to make the trip home where I would be speaking at a funeral I never had any intention of speaking at for many, many years. I hugged childhood friends as we cried with one another but also took moments to smile at sweet memories. I witnessed a mother and father bury their 22-year-old son, a moment that should never have to exist in this life. I saw and I experienced tragedy from a front row seat.

I will never be able to, nor would I ever attempt to explain why Kelly was taken so soon and so abruptly. But I do know that both in his life and in his death he has taught me so many things. Kelly was one of the absolute best friends I ever had. It is impossible to recall memories from the ages of 10 to 22 without thinking of Kelly Ferguson AT LEAST 900 times. He was a friend that did nothing but put a smile on my face. He was the most fun, ridiculous and kind-hearted person I knew. He never had one negative thing to say about another person and the first thing on his agenda was ALWAYS making sure everyone was having a good time. Kelly used to call me his soul mate, not the go-fall-in-love kind of soul mate (he knew better than that), but more of the always-be-there and always-remember sort of soul mate. Growing up in school together our friendship was this kind of effortless and safe place to be. It is a place I will always go to find and remember those sweet years of my life.

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Kelly and I took several Latin classes together (talk about some hilarious times) and as I think back on his life there is one Latin word I always associate with him: Audeo (I dare, I risk). Kelly was a dreamer. Every time I turned around he had a new idea, a new project, something amazing he was going to do despite any and all odds. This is just one of the many pieces of Kelly I want to carry on. I want to boldly go after what I want and never make excuses. I want to dare and risk greatly, because life is too short not to. I think if Kelly were here and could speak to us he would tell us to keep going. He wouldn’t want us to sit in our sadness, he would want us to laugh and remember him fondly, to live our lives passionately and with as little regret as possible.

Go for it.

I write a lot about dreaming and about following your heart and staying true to you and what you really want out of life; and maybe that is getting old to some people, maybe it isn’t, but I don’t care. I think its one of the most important things we need to keep on teaching ourselves.

I spoke with a friend recently about a big adventure they are about to go on and I couldn’t help but be incredibly jealous of their courage and willingness to go. After our conversation I realized something about myself and probably about most people. We love safety. We’d never admit it, at least I know I wouldn’t, but we love it so much we allow it to dictate our every move. We unknowingly alter what we really want, our truest desires, in the name of comfort. We let ourselves enter the vicious cycle of “what if.” What if I do “x” and then “y” happens or “z” doesn’t happen? What if I mess up? What if I’m wrong? We let fear of the unknown take over and we never go for that one big thing we know we really want.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 1 Timothy 1:7

I won’t try to speak for everyone, but I know I let fear control so much of what I do. According to Timothy (aka the BIBLE) that is NOT who I am. Jesus has given me a spirit of power. POWER. I have no reason to be afraid. I have been given the freedom to desire something bold and go, fearlessly, after it. THAT’S AMAZING.

I think a lot of us are waiting for permission or approval to follow through on our really big, “scary” dreams.

Well here it is. Go for it.

Until then.

Never wake before the sun rises.

There is purpose in its delay.

Rest in the quiet.

Find patience.

Appreciate the slowness of the night.

Never be afraid.

It is okay not to see.

Soon the sun will expose all uncertainty.

It will sooth.

It will explain.

Until then, sleep.

Eventually we will all lose everything.

I tend to be a hoarder when it comes to the “notes” on my phone and today I was going through all the ones I have saved in the last 2-3 years and ran across one that resonated deeply. It was from a sermon I heard in 2013 (probably one of the ONLY sermons I heard in 2013) and the topic was loss and how our reaction to it has deep spiritual significance.

“Loss always hangs over all of our relationships. That ache is calling you to the heart of God. Give yourself fully and completely to the love of God in joy, in suffering, in success, in loss…because it will never let you go.”

Whether we admit it or not, in every friendship, relationship, career, anything we value, there is a certain anxiety that occurs simultaneously with our attachment to that thing. We find our joy and security in these places and when we inevitably lose them, we crumble.

And lets face it, EVERYTHING we have will one day be lost.

What I have found is that never can I count on these things for ultimate security. There is only one thing in the entire universe that will never leave me, never forget me, never abandon me, never stop knowing me and never disappoint me; and that is the infinite love of God. There is NOTHING else that offers that type of security.

Now I am faced with the question, why would I ever pledge my allegiance to anything secondary to God’s love? I see and understand that the love of God will not protect me from any circumstance but it WILL keep me from being defined by anything other than the truth that I am one who is infinitely loved by God, and that will never change, I will never lose that and I can always live from that Truth.

“Oh god our hearts are restless and they find no rest until they rest in you. ”                      -St. Augustine