Skittles: Our First Fight

“You’ve had enough,” I playfully tugged the bag of Skittles out of Elisha’s hand, and sat back on the pillows to finish our movie.

“What was that about?”

I glanced over, shocked to see Elisha’s mortified face. What on earth was wrong?

“Katie, give me back my skittles.”

“Are you kidding? You’ve already had more than me, and I’ve had 11! I don’t want us to get sick on our honeymoon,” I laughed. But one look at Elisha’s incredulous brown eyes made my smile freeze . . . this was no joke. He seriously wanted more skittles!

“I can’t believe you are doing this right now.” I shook my head and handed the bag over.

“I’m just going to finish the bag.”

“Finish it!?!?! The entire bag?!?!”

My mind was blown. Who had I married?

Elisha’s ran his fingers through his hair incredulously, “What. Is. Your problem, Katie?” 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yes, I know you’re thinking I’m the crazy one right now . . . because since that eye-opening day of our honeymoon, I have come to understand that most people see an entire pack of skittles as a single serving size. (Although I still struggle accepting this social norm.)

But before you point a finger, look at my perspective.

For my family, a pack of skittles was two serving sizes for my whole family . . . of 11 kids. We would get two–three if we were lucky–then the pack was back up in the cupboard for next weekend’s treat.

Skittles were a treat. Not a meal.

I thought I was splurging having 11 Skittles (I mean, it was my honeymoon, after all). And my husband thought I was weird to actually count them.

How many times do you and your friend, your husband, or your boss, react because you have a different belief you didn’t even realize you formed?

 Expectation is the mother of frustration.

Elisha and I had the same foundational beliefs about families, homeschooling, serving Jesus, business, lifestyle . . . but Skittles? Didn’t see that one coming.

Every time I now see that colorful candy, it’s a reminder to try and see from my husband’s perspective. Just because I grew up rationing Skittles, doesn’t mean the rest of the world views sugar the same way.

The Kathryn Joy

Does the “Honeymoon Stage” Leave Us, or Do We Leave the “Honeymoon Stage?”

I’m a new wife. Very new.

So why am I writing about wife-hood, when there are so many more qualified women to share? Women who have stood by their husbands through storms and walked with their husbands through hell, women who have supported their men and made them great, women who have devoted their lives to service.

While here I am, still doting over my husbands smallest quirks, adoring every aspect of the way he cherishes me, eager to do the most menial tasks if it makes him happy . . . untempered, unweathered, inexperienced.

Just, in love.

Maybe because I want to discover, over time, if the “honeymoon stage” truly leaves us, or if we choose to leave the “honeymoon stage.”

What if I acted like I was newly married my entire marriage? What if I always focused on my husband’s strengths and overlooked his weaknesses? What if I always forgave the passing moments of hurt because he shows so much love? What if I always sought to serve him? What if I always built him up in public and private, and stay quick to apologize, because the future is so much bigger than pride?

Would I stay in the “honeymoon stage” if  I respected him forever, realizing he’s human, but honoring him because he is my human? What if I continued to make it a priority to look good for him . . . even on days when I would rather straight-up choose the bum-life?

What if, 40 years from now, I still heard him out, and listened to his opinion? What if I still allowed him to make the final decision and reverence his position as head of our home?

What if I continued to watch my words, because I care about his feelings. What would life be if I sought to build him up and remind him I love him.

What if I still told him he was “hott?”

What if his opinion always mattered more than anyone else’s in the world?

Would the “honeymoon stage” still leave, and turn into the dry, boring, painful, marriage many complain about, if I continued to apply the same amount of intentional effort into my marriage? Or would the fresh, innocent, “honeymoon stage” blossom into the rich, deep, surging “honeymoon stage” that is still ardent and joyfully-sacrificial, but stronger for the tests and trials?

Maybe the “honeymoon stage” just up and leaves us one day, but I have a hunch it’s the little decisions every day that force us to leave Eden. 

Let’s protect the passion,

The Kathryn Joy

 

5 Things I Learned in Our Long-Distance Relationship

We might as well face it, long-distance relationships are tough.

However, there is good news. Long-distance relationships can massively strengthen and deepen the bond you and your partner have. So, before you go around saying someone is “geographically undesirable,” here’s five lessons my long-distance relationship taught me (and, if we’re honest here, my husband was desirable regardless of where his physical location is on this universe).

  1. Talk About Meaningful Things

    Most of us already know that communication is the foundation for a strong, lasting relationship. If the communication process breaks down and one partner closes up or refuses to talk about what matters to them, separation is almost inevitable (we’re talking emotional here).

    The thing is, when I was around my boyfriend in person, life was perfect. We talked about stuff that mattered to us, but if ever a conversation got difficult, I could always stare into his eyes, or be comforted in his arms. Let’s just say chemistry covers a multitude of sins.

    Without Elisha’s physical presence, all I had was his voice . . . his words. If we wanted to hang out, we had to be communicating. I mean, there were some times we just sit there quiet over the phone for minutes, or I’d listen to him play guitar over FaceTime, but the majority of our time was spent communicating. You can only flirt for so long over the phone, and we turned to topics of our future, what bothered us, what we were struggling with, what we loved.

    Talk. Talk. Talk. Unlike what you may expect, an intentional long-distance relationship can actually increase the depth of your communication instead of  diminish it.

  2. Show Love

    When you’re head over heels for someone, it’s easy to show them love through physical affirmation. However, when you’re long-distance you are forced to learn to comfort each other with your words, to learn how to make the other person feel loved even when you can’t see or feel their presence. For Elisha and I, this meant going deeper, and learning to use words of affirmation, gift-giving, quality-time (my personal favorite), or even acts of service to show appreciation and love. It can take more time and effort than just caressing your partner, but I feel that in the long-run, Elisha and I are much more prepared to work at loving one another in marriage, in ways we may not initially expect.

  3. Stress

    Yeah, long-distance adds stress to relationships. However, I don’t think this is a bad thing. In marriage, stress is going to be a real factor, and it can be good to see how your partner reacts to stress. Do they shut down? Do they want to quit? Are they eager to keep fighting for your relationship? My respect for Elisha massively grew, as I saw his unwillingness to give up on us, and his desire to love me, even when I couldn’t see through the stressful situation myself.

  4. Trust

    When you’re long-distance, you have to trust your person. Are they going to share everything about their lives, or just the good things? I’ll admit, it was embarrassing to tell Elisha I wasted an evening watching a show on YouTube that was not beneficial. But seeing him open up to me, and tell me things I didn’t “need” to know, made me feel more confident sharing all aspects of my life with him. Even a state away, he was my accountability.

    It can build more trust to have someone voluntarily share with you, than to constantly snoop on their lives. It also is encouraging to hear from present friends and family that your significant other is the same person when you’re not around, as when you are.

  5. You Need Time In Person

    There are many benefits to having a long-distance relationship, but know this: you need time in person. Relationships shouldn’t be built on distance alone. It’s so easy to fake when you’re miles apart. Elisha and I needed time to validate, in-person, what we told each other over the phone. We needed to see if he clicked with my family, if I connected with his friends, if we enjoyed the same hobbies and had similar values when it came to how we spent our time. We also needed input from friends who knew us well. Do you guys “go” together? Are you a better person around your Significant Other, or do they bring out a side you friends are hesitant about?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I may be “The Love Expert” in my sister’s phone contacts, but in reality, I’m obviously just in the beginning stages of navigating this world of eternal commitment and self-less love. I’ve had my share of relationship mistakes, but as a girl, I always enjoyed reading about what other women have learned, so here is a bit of my journey.

    Wishing you all the love in the world,
    The Kathryn Joy

I’m Getting Married!!!

Good news. The Tale Of My First Love, did not END in a breakup…

“Just Friends”

Soon after ending things, Elisha and I entered “real” relationships where we began to experience the security, happiness, and good vibes that one’s notorious other (usually) gives.

We bumped shoulders a couple times, but we didn’t talk much, and it was never awkward. Elisha and I knew vaguely what was happing in each other’s lives because his sisters were still my best friends, but I was happy and fulfilled and he was too.

A year and a half later, Elisha and I found ourselves both recently single and road tripping up to a wedding together with our sisters.

Although I was still struggling getting over my breakup, sincere admiration for how Elisha had matured was coupled with hurt for the recent pain he was going through. I felt we could relate.

“You and Elisha are so cute together, are you going to get back together?” A mutual friend asked after we hung out all weekend.

I laughed, “are you kidding me? Been there done that. We both know we could never work.”

That night I texted Elisha and told him I was sorry he was going through such a tough time emotionally, and I respected how he was recovering.

“Thanks. I respect you a lot, Katie Johnson, and I’m glad we can still be friends after our ‘funny’ experience . . . I don’t know how else to put it.”

We were mutually happy we could be friends after what happened, and over the next couple weeks Elisha initiated several random text convos.

Then, I went up to his house for Tucker’s graduation and I heard rumors circulating of “Elisha and Katie.”

Good graciousness, no. I thought to myself. 

Upset, I texted Elisha on the way home—making sure we were on the same page: just friends.

“Yeah, of course, just friends,” he replied. But he threw in that I was the “catch of the century.” 

“What? You had a DTR with Elisha?” Daddy asked. “You like this guy, Katie,”he sighed. “I don’t want to do this again.”

“No, I DON’T. Are you kidding? I would never go what we went through again! We are seriously just friends.”

One text conversation flowed into another and during witty sallies and meaningful conversations, we realized we both had changed. A lot.

He hinted that he liked me. I feigned ignorance.

He flirted and told me how amazing he thought I was. I flirted back and reminded him, “just friends, remember?”

After two months of talking, I saw him at 4th of July and it was . . . AWKWARD. All those hours texting, even a couple short phone calls, and he still ignored me, so I ignored him.

“Dude, what’s the deal?” I texted him late that night. “Are you always weird around girls, or just me? What’s worse, I’m finding myself attracted to you for all the wrong reasons.”

The next day, Elisha finally clearly declared his interest in me, “Do you just see me as an older brother, Katie?”

Sheesh. If I saw him as a brother, my feelings would be illegal in 49 states!

“No, it’s just that we don’t go together. We’d argue all the time, and, let’s face it, we don’t like being around each other in person . . . let’s not talk anymore.”

So, we stopped.

We saw each other two weeks later at the camp, and awkwardness was at an all-time high. During a 2 hour DTR, I frankly shared my concerns. When I told my friends what I told him, they said I was mean. Maybe, but I felt no shame.

After telling Elisha we needed to stop texting, he wrapped his strong arms around me in a crushing embrace. For a split-second my heart stopped, and I was angered at my own confusion.

Get a grip, Katie. There’s so much more to real-life than a hug. You guys are awkward. Remember?

Nevertheless, when our barn burned down, Elisha was the first person I texted. I needed support and he was there. Once again, I felt a tug at my soul. It was as if the little seed of childhood love, buried deep in my heart, was struggling to burst through the surface.

Yet still, my mind told me, “you will never work. Never.”

The Winds Change

“There is this Kathryn, who seems to be laughin’
At a guy like me, who just wants to care . . . “

That was the beginning of the song Elisha wrote me. We were texting . . . again. 

“I like you, Katie.”

“Stop.”

“I could be your boyfriend.”

“We are never, ever, ever, getting back together.”

The “just friends” status was questioned almost every day, but I continued to say “no.”

After that song, I told Elisha all my concerns, but he told me how he didn’t buy that junk. 

There, in the dark of the hallway with my phone light glowing, I started sobbing, and halfway admitted to myself and him that I hoped he was right. Maybe there was a possibility of real-life being as beautiful as our text conversations. Maybe.

Later that week, Elisha came down for the Man Camp my daddy puts on, and totally pursued my family which was big, big, points with me. He was a leader, a guy everyone liked, sweet, and (gotta admit) a total stud. By the last day of the camp, I realized I liked this man a lot more that I was aware, but advice from my cousin, uncle, and mother was that, “the timing is wrong.”

We couldn’t mess this up with bad timing . . . again.

“Okay. So, I Like You…”

“It’s late, men. Time for curfew!” Daddy finally called. The guys at The Achademy were huddled around Tiki Torches at 11 o’ clock at night.

“Hey, can I walk you to your car?” I whispered to Elisha.

“Yeah, of course.”

We went to the parking lot, but guys were coming with headlamps to get their stuff, so we moved further away. The headlamps seemed to follow.

“I don’t want to be seen with you way out here in the dark,” I whispered. “It will look bad.”

We kept going further into the darkness until we ended up behind a giant burm, and settled down on two cement blocks.

“Ok,” I started abruptly, “So, I like you, but . . . “

“Just stop there,” Elisha interrupted. “You like me?! Yessss.” He ran his hands through this dark hair laughing to himself. “You like me. Katie Johnson likes me!”

“Haha, yeah, I do. But we need to break. Like, for three months.”

Lights flooded around the burm and I heard shouts as we continued talking.

“I gotta go,” I told Elisha nervously. “This is going to look really bad.”

I began to get up to leave, but he pulled me into him. Our breathing was steady in the still night air, but I was stiff—scared I was going to be found behind a burm in the arms of a guy who I swore I was “just friends” with at midnight!

“I need to leave,” I pushed myself away and this time he let me go. We scrambled over the rocks to his car.

“Katie, I really like you,” he whispered softly.

“I like you too, but I don’t want to be found like this.”

“I get it.”

I pushed away, but not before he quickly kissed my forehead, leaving me to waltz half-drunk on emotions into the arms of the frantic sisters, best friend, uncle, and frustrated father.

“Don’t worry!” I muttered worriedly. “I can explain.”

Elisha and Katie 2.0

“Baby, guess I want to try, this may end up being a do or die,
We could be perfect, we could be disasters,
It will be worth it . . .”

We sent songs back and forth as we implemented breaks, guidelines, and rules into our stop and go relationship. One day I would be dreaming of forever, the next, I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. One thing was certain, I was madly in love with the man of my dreams, and I was willing to fight for him.

When Elisha and I finally starting “officially” dating, my respect grew quickly, as he pursued my family and gained my parents’ support. He was more than just a handsome face and talented man. He cherished me, led me in truth, and amazed me with his intentionality.

I was wary about entering a relationship where my heart could be crushed, so I quickly drilled him with questions, was frank with my concerns, and open about my flaws.

Within three weeks of becoming Elisha’s girlfriend, I knew I wanted my first love, to be my forever love.

I could write a book documenting our mistakes, our successes, and the wild ride it has been loving Elisha. But I’ll leave you with this, it was worth it. 

I wouldn’t trade our journey for the world. 

So many of you have asked me why I’m confident in the man I’m giving my life to in a few months, so here is the short answer…

Top 5 Things I LOVE about Elisha 

  1. I respect him, his relationship with God, and his heart like no other young man.
  2. He is honest and a man of integrity. I trust him implicitly.
  3. He knows me, yet he loves me unconditionally–even with my glaring weaknesses and flaws. His patience and kindness is next to none as I work on my immaturities.
  4. He’s a strong leader with vision and authority, but he still lets me be . . . well, crazy me.
  5. He’s basically everything you could ever want in man: athletic, tall, dark, handsome, intelligent, clever, thoughtful, creative, good at connecting with people, musical, intentional, romantic . . . a life-long learner, reader, deep-thinker, and hard-worker. Oh, and did I mention he’s hott?

I loved him for 12 years. And now I get to love him for life.

What’s not to love?

The Kathryn Joy

 

The Tale of My First Love

Childhood Crush

I pinched my freckled nose tight and peered under the trampoline at a pair of tan legs grounded in red, white, and blue skate shoes.

“I like that boy,” I whispered to my 7-year-old sister from the safety of my hideout.

“I like him too,” she smiled. “His name is Pete.”

“No, like, I like-like him,” I scowled. “His name is Elisha.”

“Those are ugly shoes,” Ky shrugged.

“Yeah, but look at those muscles!” 

Late that night at summer camp, I snuggled in bed with my three best friends–Kyla, and Annie and Lilja Voetberg–and shyly whispered about my crush.

“I’m still not sure what his name is,” I sighed. “I asked and he said to call him ‘Bo’.”

“I told you it’s Peter,” Ky mumbled sleepily.

“Elisha? You like our older brother!” Lilja groaned and rolled over in bed. “All the girls like him. Not you too!! He’s almost 13 and you’re only 8.”

Nevertheless, the first thing I did when I arrived home in California was scrawl in my journal, “I want to marry Elisha Peter Voetberg.”

Over the next 4 years, I only saw glimpses of Elisha at Camp Dwight each summer. I say ‘glimpses’ because he was always running around with the cool kids that could drive, stay up late, and eat sugar without asking their parents. Annie, Lilja and I went to sleep at 8:30pm, and I was wearing pull-ups to bed until I was 10.

Still, I would dream about Elisha each night, and try anything to impress him—back flips, sports, learning the fiddle (because he and his sisters played) and memorizing all the songs on his family’s CDs by heart. Still, we never talked.

I do remember giving him a half hug goodbye once. He was wearing a pink pin-stripped shirt and I nearly passed out with happiness.

He also got on Instant Messenger one New Year’s Eve when I was messaging Annie and told me I was a jerk. My heart flip-flopped and I wouldn’t have been happier if he told me he was in love.

“Katie, Elisha is too old, hun,” by babysitter told me late one night.

“Well, then I’ll grow up fast,” I shrugged and snuggled in my bed to pray the prayer I did every night: “Dear Jesus, Please let me marry Elisha.” 

From the Distance

Around 12 years old, I got tired of not being noticed—by Elisha, that is. Turns out, other boys my age thought I was cute, and my tomboy teasing turned into flirting and giddiness. However, every year at Camp, my heart would still flutter when I saw Elisha get on stage and perform on his mandolin. I’d make excuses to hang out with his friends, but still, we never talked.

“Do you still like him?” Lilja whispered.

“Of course not.” I sighed. “I admire a lot of things about him but I’m not going to be one of the hundreds of girls that like him.”

She rolled her eyes.

Then, I started hearing rumors of Elisha liking this girl or that girl falling for him. I realized he was 20 and I barely turned 15. He was going to be married before I even finished puberty.

I gave him up. (Although I still developed grudges against girls I heard he was crushing on). Besides, other guys told me they “were in love with me.”

The Beginning of the End

Finally, I turned 18, and my dad decided to let guys begin contacting me. A couple well-known suitors made public their desire to “get to know me” that week, and I was considering how to respond when an email popped up in my browser from ELISHA VOETBERG!!!!

Suddenly my heart stopped. Elisha Peter Voetberg, my first crush, the boy that was always out of reach, the catch of the century, wanted to get to know ME!

“Ahhhhhh!!!!!!” I jumped up on the bed and began screaming. Dizzy with excitement I didn’t even read the whole email and sprinted downstairs to my dad’s room.

“Oh my gosh,” I gasped, “tell me it’s not a joke. Tell me it’s. not. a. joke. Elisha . . . Elisha Voetberg . . . he wants . . . did you know this???! He wants to get to know me! Ahhhhhhh! I can’t even handle it!” I grabbed my head and jumped up and down.

Daddy shot Mother a ‘this-was-a-bad-idea’ glance and sighed, “let’s go upstairs, Katie.”

“Just tell me! Tell me! Is this real? Oh my WORD!”

Thus began a series of the dullest, most thought out, most anticipated letters ever written.

Our “approved” form of contact would have me clambering to the mailbox every day at 11:15am to check for a letter. It didn’t matter if Elisha wrote like he was writing the president, it didn’t matter that my dad read every word and censored everything I sent out, they were letters from him with his scrawling penmanship and light scent. He said I was a cool girl, and we talked about the weather and theology and any other emotionless fact.

Elisha and I hung out in person at a wedding a few weeks in.

It was awkward.

When we talked he would look over my head like he was trying to find someone in a crowd. I would alternate between following him around and ignoring him, but I told every girl I was writing Elisha Voetberg and they all fainted with jealously.

We hung out again. It was awkward again. Both of us would make small talk and then ignore each other. I wrote in my journal how insecure I was . . . maybe I wasn’t pretty enough for Elisha.

I was pretty sure Elisha didn’t like me, because he would get antsy when I was there and would then monologue for hours while I feigned interest and stared at his gorgeous eyes thinking “this is worth it.”

Then came Camp Dwight. The camp where I met my crush, the camp where I swooned over him for ten years. The CAMP.

“Elisha’s hot,” I whispered to Lilja as he performed at talent night.

She rolled her eyes, “you guys are SO awkward. I hate this.”

Love finally began to blossom and a light flirtation between Elisha and I occurred around the camp fire. As usual, it was awkward, but skydiving together was a highlight and I came home with a love-song written in my mind and hope in my heart.

“Mommy,” I smiled dreamily, “Elisha and I may actually get married!”

“I’m not ready for this,” Mama said, concerned.

Turns out, no one was ready, for the next week Daddy announced there would be no more letters between Elisha and I while he got to know him. There was no timeline for this “get to know” process and I sunk into the first depression I ever experienced. 

Elisha was allowed to come to my district volleyball championship and I felt awkwardness . . . again. Any momentum we had gained was completely gone, and all the dreams I had of running and jumping in his arms were realized as a stiff side-hug and painfully polite “hellos.”

Nevertheless, we still talked on the phone once a week. These calls were usually Elisha monologuing for an hour and me “mmm . . . oh . . .uh-huhing” as a mindless, frustrated, insecure girl.

I started to get fed-up with this “relationship” with prince charming.

It’s Over

Elisha came down to visit me in California that winter and we got in a family argument. Actually, we got in lots of them.

“You guys just need to be friends for the next year or two,” Daddy cautioned. “He’s not ready to get married.”

“I just want a boyfriend,” I sobbed. “I like him and I want to go on dates WITHOUT Kyla and Kelsey!”

Tension reached an all time high when Elisha decided to create an argument:

“I don’t think corn syrup is bad for you…” He  smiled smugly and waited for a response.

I took the bait . . . worn out and mad.

When we got home to Oregon, I still answered Elisha’s call, only to hear him say we should think of taking it slower . . . talking less, maybe even taking a break.

I was fed up.

This guy didn’t like me, he wouldn’t romance me, and my dad was ready to ship him to Africa to grow up. Typically a confident, good-with-guys kind of girl, I was sick of feeling insecure and unsure of myself. And he wanted to take it slower?! We were already going backwards.

“Elisha,” I wrote a final letter (that was never sent), “I’m kind of tired of this. You’re awesome, but whatever we are, whatever we’re doing, let’s stop.”

The next week, Elisha called for a final time, “Katie, it’s just too much pressure right now. I respect you, but I need to figure out what I’m doing with my life and I don’t think we make each other better. I’m not saying I’ll pretend we never happened . . . I liked you, but it’s over. Are you with me?”

I held back tears and nodded on the phone, “Yeah,” I whispered, “I totally understand. You’re right.”

After we hung up I walked down to my parent’s room with tears trickling down my cheeks. “He’s right,” I smiled through cloudy eyes. “I’m actually relieved. Like, it’s sad everything I’ve dreamed about for so long is over, but it actually feels good to be done with all that confusion!”

I laughed . . . and never looked back.

Well, actually I did look back over the next year and a half, but only with a cringe and grateful heart. We gave it our best shot and it didn’t work. Continue Reading.

 

Cheers to first loves!
Scan 2

The Quickest Way To Change Your Life

Difference

There will always be someone who will see the problems.

There will always be someone who will tell you “you’ll fail.”

There will always be someone who will make it their goal to drag you down with them to a life of mediocrity, and defeat, and hopelessness. 

That’s all fine and good . . . if you want their life.

Today, I spent 5 hours talking with one of the most motivational couples I have ever met.  They are passionate, brilliant, and hungry learners. They reach for the stars—and they touch them. They have the Joy of Christ I delight in, the travel schedule dreams are made of, and the day-in, day-out drive that gives meaning and purpose. 

I want to be like these incredible humans–we quickly became friends. 

I am going to pursue them, their ideas, and their input, in my life. 

People that excite and challenge you:

  • Are upfront and honest
  • Believe in you
  • Make you realize you can do anything 
  • They accept your failures, and tell you to fail more . . . fail the right way . . . fail forward.
  • They stretch your brain to places it dared not travel
  • They grow your vision–your perspective
  • They push you closer towards Christ 
  • The learn from you

People that belong to mediocrity:

  • Are subtle and sneaky
  • Remind you of your faults
  • Tell you why you should be comfortable where you are, “you’ll never get anywhere better anyways.”
  • Point out your failures . . . scare you from trying again 
  • Make you small-minded and petty
  • Talk about people, and problems
  • Encourage selfishness

Why do we sell ourselves short when it comes to friends? Why do we surround ourselves with people that speak of other people, and pop culture, and themselves?

Friends are the support network of life. Friend groups either push each other to greater heights, or pull each other down to a life of status quo and apathy.

Years of studies show we read what our friends read. We watch what they watch. We listen to what they listen to. We get excited about what they get excited about.

Today, being built-up, encouraged, and challenged in Jesus, entrepreneurialism, and intentional living, a thought hit me:

The quickest way to change your life is to change your friends. Selah.

But remember, our friend’s are never responsible for how our lives turn out. We choose our friends, therefore, we choose our destiny.  

The Kathryn Joy

 

 

 

P.S. Thank you to my dearest friends who have poured energy, life, and goodness into my life. Thank you for picking me up when I fall, and reminding me I can do all things in Christ. You give me passion and excitement, and I only hope I can in some way be the same support to you. 

15 Things I’ve Learned in 2015

The year 2015 shall forever go down in history as one of the grandest and most stretching years of my life. I’m not going to say all I’ve learned, because some of it is embarrassing, some of it is irrelevant, and some of you don’t have time to read through “The 3 Billion Life-Lessons Katie Learned in 2015.”

Here’s a smattering of thoughts.

1. The Sooner You Surrender the Better

If you don’t learn your lesson the first time, it’s going to keep coming around. (I have proven that to be true.) I must have taken the: “Surrender is Better” course about 3,200,865 times this year and failed 3,200, 864 times. Praise Jesus I think I’m finally learning. (Watch, now he’s going to test me.)

Fighting God, authority placed in your life, circumstances . . . it’s a waste of time, people. Submit.

2. Health is Wealth 

You’ve heard this one before? So have I. Problem is, few of us act on this information. This year I have been proactive in taking care of my health.

I did my research and took $1,000 worth of supplements, for a dynamic, active, health-filled year. Compare that with 2014’s $5,000 in doctor bills, hundreds of pills, losing half my hair, and stress out the wazoo. Feeling healthy is awesome, AND it’s cheaper than being sick. Win win.

3. Just Say “No”

When you were 2 years old, it helped you develop when people told you “no.” Now, dear adult, it’s one of the best things you can tell yourself.

We only have so much time to devote to friendships, work, hobbies, and quality of life. I’m with you chronic “I-can-make-time-for-that” overcomitters, but it’s NOT best. Saying “no” actually gives you more opportunity! Let’s make the most of what we have instead of constantly dropping the ball.

Give a few things that matter your full effort instead of giving the world your minimal wasted attempts.

4. Failure is a Part of Life

So, we fail. At least I do. Honestly though, I don’t really care. The failures I made this year truly were lessons, and the takeaways I gained were invaluable. Deals fall through, relationships end, I say the wrong thing . . . guess what. So does everybody else. A million and a half cliche failure quotes are coming to mind right now, but I’ll leave you with my own:

Hmmm…

Ok. Here it is.

Often, our biggest moments of growth, come from our biggest moments of failure.

So, I thought I made that up, but apparently it’s a paraphrase from some random dude on Google. #Fail 

5. Be Careful Who You Let Influence You

I can find at least one person on this planet who will agree with me. My stupid ideas, my bright ideas–trust me, there’s someone out there. This year I discovered there are many well-meaning people out there who, like me, have an opinion about how life should be lived.

But before you take their advice (even if you love them to death) take a look at their life. Do you want to have their financial situation, their love-life, their relationship with Jesus, or whatever it may be in ten years?

No? Then maybe you should find someone else to listen to. At least, that’s what I needed to do this year.

6. Be Humble, Grateful and Flexible

This has become my mantra the last 6 months.

It’s way harder than it looks.

I guarantee we all can improve from a little more humility.

(because really, who we are is mainly the product of what we have been given. Yes, God is the one that gave you your good looks and big brains. Your parents are the ones that gave you the opportunity to take voice lessons. Your friends were patient as you discovered how to use your EQ . . . ).

An interesting  exercise is to think about who I/you would be if we were born into a lower social class, if we didn’t have the opportunities or positive input we’ve had, if we had a more difficult upbringing, etc. It’s sure to make us more grateful!

Flexibility is a big one too. Life isn’t a straight line from A to B. Our success in life is largely based on how we adapt and change and stretch to circumstances that are thrown at us.

7. Buy Shoes on Sale

It’s way cheaper.

8. If You’re the Child of an Entrepreneur, Good Luck Ever Being Satisfied With A Regular Job

If you’re born into a life of hard-work and time freedom, you’re addicted whether you know it yet or not. Even if you get a “regular” job, you will be one of those employees that thinks like an owner and measures monetary success on value provided not time served.

9. Social Media is A Silent Killer

It kills relationships. Creativity. Time. Happiness.

This was my first year on Facebook and Twitter. I am amazed at the way I have had such a quick, far-reaching impact with my nutritional business, cooking show, and blog. But it has come at a price.

I’m a believer in having my cake and eating it too, but this online beast is difficult to control. Don’t let it control you.

10. Read Physical Books

Social media gave me the feeling I was reading—after all, I was skipping from irrelevant blog post to irrelevant news—but it was not the reading that cleanses, that purifies, that edifies.

Pause from the blogs and high-paced internet sites for a minute and take time to read a physical book. There’s something about reading without the distraction of notifications, ads, and pop-ups that soothes the soul.

11. There’s More to Cooking Than Meets the Eye

Take away: Go thank your mom right now.

12. Have A Philippians Four Focus! 

Focusing on what is true, and good, and right, makes life so much better! I don’t know how I feel about never growing up, but Peter Pan had something right: think on happy thoughts and you’ll fly! Let’s not be weighed down by negativity.

There is no benefit. Seriously.

13. Being In Love Is The Best Feeling Ever

You may have learned this decades ago, or you still might be waiting for your true love. Whatever the case, here’s my amateur advice: Do what it takes to stay in love. I mean, why not? It’s a pretty darn good place to be.

14. Journal  

This. Is. Beautiful.

Looking back on the life lessons, emotional highs, and end-of-the-world lows, of my past years is an amazing journey. Meditate on God’s faithfulness. Laugh at yourself. And remember what life is all about. You’ll be surprised at all the moments you’ll think, “oh, I forgot about that!” as you go back.

15. Push Yourself

If we don’t push ourselves, how are we going to grow? And if we do the same thing every day how are we going to push ourselves?

I have pushed. And pushed. And pushed myself out of my comfort zone this year. (Often friends and family members did it for me.) 

As a result I get to look back at 2015 and say, I did grow, I did change, I did mature.

What you learned this year?

Scan 2

 

Confessions of A Lazy Nutritionalist

So, as you all know by now, I’m a 20-year-old, passionate, determined person. I throw all my energy into whatever I’m excited about and I would describe myself as driven and action-oriented. But, I’ll admit, I have been downright lazy about my health.

I’ve always loved athletics, and my high-metabolism keeps me eating ALL the time, buttt I have been the nutritional rebel of the family.

Why?

Two reasons.

First: Health takes too much time. I mean, I enjoy working out, but spending valuable time in the kitchen creating Trim Healthy Mama Trama cookies just isn’t my thing. I forget to grab snacks and end up eating out, I don’t take the time to make nutritious meals when I’m on my own (I know, that needs to change) and I LOVE carbs. Chips, bagels, crackers . . . those are my go-tos.

Second: I’m young! (Right?) Who needs to worry about nutrition when we’re in our prime? Wrong.

September 2014 I took a three week trip with my family to the East Coast. Along with touring for nearly 12 hours each day, I was finishing up my last semester of college, working, and trying to keep up a long distance relationship. Without notice (Okay, so maybe I just didn’t notice the signs) I woke up one morning with hair strewn all over my pillow.

 

“Oh my gosh, Katie!” Kyla gasped. “You’re shedding like a dog!”

“I always lose a few hairs when I shower,” I shrugged as Kyla brushed a handful of hair onto the floor.

But within the next few weeks, I began balding near the crown of my head. You know how embarrassing and scary that is for a woman? Below is a snippet from my journal in October 2015.

“It’s demoralizing to see your hair slip down the drain. It’s hard to constantly have your sisters de-hair your sweater because you’re shedding like a dog. It’s hard. But in a way, I chose this.”

I began searching frantically for natural path doctors, taking herbs, having blood tests, watching YouTube’s on hair loss andtrying NOT to stress about the stress that was killing me. I worried about having to do colonics (where, I was told, the rest of my hair would fall out).

“You need to start taking NeoLife,” my mom suggested. “There’s a reason your dad and I have taken it for 15 years.”

“No, I need special vitamins. NOT my Parent’s vitamins. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the power of the cellular nutrition I had always had at my fingertips, and I went off searching for some other cure. Over the next few months, the massive quantities of minerals and herbs I was taking began to refill my depleted body, but I was still exhausted . . . taking naps as often as I could. In December, February, and March, I would tire easily, and couldn’t perform at the level I was used to.

(And, while we’re admitting to foolish behavior, I might as well admit to taking my minerals about once a week. I never remembered them because I couldn’t feel any difference whether I took them or not.)

Why? Because my cells were so depleted they were not absorbing the nutrients! I needed Tre-en-en.

Finally, this March, I decided to research NeoLife and see if it was as powerful as my parents said. Surprise! They were right . . . again. There was a reason these supplements healed my uncle’s boils, my cousin’s fibromyalgia, my dad’s chronic fatigue, my friend’s diabetes . . . Suddenly, I went from “I could care less” to shouting my “cure” from the housetops to all my friends with similar health struggles.

I ditched my doctor’s Standard Process supplements and switched over to taking pure Neolife. Guess what? I even  took my supplements every day because I FELT a difference! 

In just over a month of taking Pro Vitality+, I regained the energy and vitality I had before my illness. The NeoLife Shake also gives me that added protein with zero cooking time! I no longer feel the need for naps, and I wake up naturally every morning. I’m still swamped, get around 6 hours of sleep a night, eat vinegar chips and chocolate cake, and have emotional stress (who doesn’t when they live in an awesome party house with 12 other people? ;).

For me, all that changed was NeoLife.

I’m now passionate about nutrition, (still working on the practical application) and my life-changing experience motivated me to join my family in promoting this vibrant health and wellness club throughout the United States.

Are you exhausted? Do you want to prevent spending the thousands of dollars I spent on doctors? Do you just want to feel awesome and be able to tell your friends about it?

ME TOO! 

Let’s make 2016 the best year ever! (Feel free to call me at: (541) 965-3318! )
The Kathryn Joy

The Sin That Destroyed My Joy

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For the past few months I have been walking in sin. 

No, I’m not pregnant. I haven’t run away. Everyone I’ve come in contact with is still alive (that I know of). But sin has been deeply rooted in my life.

When I shared this with one of my friends she said, “Katie, what are you talking about? You’re such a ‘good girl’ you’ve never done anything that bad.

That’s the problem with this world. If we haven’t committed the latest scandal, completely gone against every moral and social wrong, or physically harmed someone, it’s not “that bad.” 

However, ALL sin separates us from God. Not just the “big” sins, not just the “really bad” actions.

Don’t see what’s the big deal with “little” sins—-“good-people-sins” that don’t involve sex, drugs, or abuse?

I didn’t either.

You see, the world told me: This isn’t rebellion, this is standing up for yourself. You don’t have to comply to your parent’s wishes. You’re an adult! You don’t deserve to deal with these expectations. They’re unrealistic! You don’t have to turn off this song. Your standards are too high. 

And you know what, the world is right. I don’t.

I don’t have to choose surrender my ideals and goals to the Lord. I have a choice. I don’t have to honor my parents. I get to. I don’t have to understand God’s reasons. I can walk by faith.

You know what I don’t want more than anything else? Separation from God. 

The sin in my life has been un-surrender.

I refused to submit to the authority God has placed in my life . . . but I still wanted the blessing. I wanted MY way, AND my parents’ rubber stamp of approval. I wanted to run MY OWN life, AND experience Jesus’ pleasure.

My little self-righteous heart couldn’t see what the sin was in my life.

I could justify it.

After all, many of my friends were moving out doing what they wanted . . . girls my age were doing what they wanted . . . why was I not getting to DO WHAT I WANTED!!!*

*Side note 1: nowhere in the bible does it ever say “do what you want.”
*Side note 2: When you throw a fit and you’re 20, it’s embarrassing. 

Yet, even while was doing everything right and my stress was everyone else’s problem, my bible times were cardboard. I couldn’t even write on this blog for weeks because frankly, I had nothing to share.

Nothing.

By buying into the world’s thought process of “what I deserve” and “doing what I wanted,” I slowly began to experience death. Glittery, chintzy, slow-death. In the end, that’s all the world offers. No true freedom, just death. 

I was empty. I was a useless vessel. Right where the devil wanted me.

Praise God, I say “was.” 

Christ is SO faithful to keep pursuing—reminding us that while we chase the grand, plastic, marketing scheme of the world it is a farce. His way, his pure way of righteousness and power only requires us to do one thing. Surrender.

Give up what WE want. 

Give up what the world says “we deserve.” 

Surrender to him EVEN though it seems unconventional or straight up strange.

I don’t know what sin is separating you from God. Or maybe you’re like me, “doing everything right” yet not experiencing peace and joy. 😉 

It’s not worth it.

Please don’t shut out the unrest you feel in your soul, like I did, with business, pleasure and stuff. It took a lonely-five-hour car ride for God to have the time and space he needed to convict me of my hypocritical spirit.

Surrender is hard. But freedom is so worth it!

Surrendering my life, my plans, and my desires with you, to the one who holds our perfect futures, 

The Kathryn Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Leave your Love

Have you ever lost your passion to practicality?

Have you ever left your love for life?

As children, we are born with innate passion and drives. At eight years old, I discovered a love of transporting myself through fiction and was delighted to find I could create my own beginnings–my own endings–on paper.

Before long, I was passionate about the power of the pen.

At eleven, with the help of Microsoft, I became the woman I wanted to be, fell in love with tall, dark, and handsome, withstood torture for what I believed in, and became a spy that witnessed the scenes of prisons, shady characters, and dark alleys. I survived a wagon train exodus, escaped as a plantation slave, and shyly had my first kiss.

Through high school and college, I toggled between journaling my difficult moments and advice to my future-self as a parent of teenagers, to improving my skill through in-depth essays, autobiography, and fictional assignments. My love of writing became deeper and richer.

Then, I became busy.

Work, entertainment, new hobbies, relationships, coaching, school courses, more work . . . I didn’t have time.

Today I taught my first private English Class of the fall semester. As students slouched over their papers, brows furrowed and pencils scratching mindfully, I smiled as my own pen began to glide over my notebook. For the first time in months, my mind began to swim as I once again slid into a world of magic . . . a world where I could resolve conflict and drama.

Smiling and wide-eyed, my class listened as I read my brief yet thick description, and I discovered that I not only inspired them, I had inspired myself.

Writing is my gift. It is a passion that brings me joy and freedom, yet I denied myself that pleasure because I was busy.

I took away something that gave me life in pursuit of life.

Isn’t that ironic? In the business of searching for love, and joy, and happiness, we often leave behind the very things that bring us those moments of ecstasy.

I don’t know what your love is . . . but don’t forget. 

Is it a hobby? Do you no longer have time to pause and create?
Make time. We only have one life to live.

Is it a relationship? Are you no longer investing in the person you love because you’re in pursuit of something greater?
Let them know you care. Realize what you’re losing before it’s too late.

Is it a dream? Do you put off your goals for “someday?”
Do it. We only have so much time.

Just as God delights in us, his creation, he has given you and I beauty to delight in as well—-things to do, be, or have, that make us light up with pleasure.

Don’t leave passion for the old, the stale, the practical. Enjoy what makes you you . . . the unique individual with unique habits and talents.

God created us to live life to the fullest.

Don’t miss out because you were too busy.

Don’t miss out on what makes life brilliantly colorful.

Don’t leave your love.

The Kathryn Joy