BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!! We are moving!

WE ARE MOVING!!

That’s right! Hot Tea and the Empty Seat found a new home & it’s waiting for you to go get cozy and show some love! I will no longer be posting on this URL/blog page and eventually it will be deleted. SO, please check out the new blog! Let’s not miss each other for too long…

Since we don’t want to see you go, please head over here now and subscribe via email to our new blog! You will still receive the same encouragement in your inbox, it will just be prettier & more organized!!! If you don’t subscribe and follow the new blog, you won’t get all of the weekly awesomeness & we don’t want that!

I would also LOVE you if you headed over there right now with your hot tea in hand and peeked around a bit. There is a new ‘about me’ and lots of goodies just waiting for you to enjoy!

The new blog link is: http://www.hotteaandtheemptyseat.blogspot.com/

 

Thank YOU so much for being a part of Hot Tea and the Empty Seat. This is just the beginning! Can’t wait to hear from you!

 

See you soon! -Katie

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The Day Jesus Spoke to Me in a Parking Lot

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 NLT

 

One morning this week, I stopped by Starbucks to have a little quiet time with God and start praying over the Romans bible study that we’re doing here on the blog. After finishing up, I ran across the street to the grocery store to pick up a few things and meet a friend to drop off her photography cd. As I was leaving and walking into the parking lot, I spotted a tall, wiry old man to the left of me walking up to a college-age kid asking him for some change. They both smiled and the young man gave him what was in his pockets and walked off. In the back of my mind, I figured he would come ask me. I was already to  my car and my hands were full of groceries. He walked up to me and said, “ma’am, do you have any spare change so that I can get something to eat?” I casually said, “yeah, hold on a second and let me finish putting my groceries away….” The grey-headed man with tubes coming from every which way smiled gently and said, “no problem, thank you.” He stood a safe, friendly distance away while I finished putting my milk into the back. Then he asked out of the blue with my back to him, “do you read the Bible?” “Yeah I do!” I exclaimed. He replied, “read John 17. There are 24 verses. Read it” I said, “awesome, I’ll do that.” He then asked me if I was from a town about two hours away (the hometown I just moved from!) “Yeah, yeah” I replied, pretty confused. He then began to tell me how he used to work at the state park there and ride horses before his wife died but after she passed, he moved to C here and shortly after, found out he had cancer. (Hence all the tubes, I suppose)

Then, what he began to say next absolutely blew me away. You see, for the past three or four weeks, my husband I have been having discussions about healing and sickness almost daily. We have been reading in Matthew and Mark where Jesus heals sick, raises children from the dead, and cures people of diseases instantly. Each had great faith in Jesus and knew that He would heal them or their loved ones and HE DID. Every time. I have been praying, thinking, confused, and marveling at all of those encounters with Jesus. I have been asking questions about people with cancer or disease who have not been healed and why that was. I had no answers and neither did my husband. We just kept reading about Jesus always healing. We believed, of course, but I was still confused. God knew that I was confused but the night before this encounter with the tall man in the parking lot, I remember thinking that God will show me one day…

After the man, for a few short moments, told me how he had been to a veteran hospital, he told me how they stopped paying for his medical bills. I told him that God always provides. He said, “He sure does and He always will!”

Then he said, “Did you know that I have been healed from my cancer? I still do some radiation so that it doesn’t come back but I’m healed. Yes, the last time I went to my doctor for a scan, I told him that I was cured! The doctor looked confused and said, ‘really, how is that?’ Then I looked at him and told him that God had healed me! I prayed to Him last night that my cancer would be gone because Jesus says in the Bible that if you have faith that Jesus will heal you then you will be healed! And we took a scan of my cancer and sure enough, it was gone! I was healed!”

I looked in amazement. All I could say was, “wow! how awesome! wow!” Not only was he a miracle but he had no idea that Jesus was speaking straight to me through his testimony and his words. Or maybe he knew exactly. Is it a coincidence that this poor survivor of Vietnam, his wife dying, and cancer walked into that parking lot and stood in front of me as soon as I walked out of the store into the same parking lot? Is it a coincidence that he was a Christ follower, a faithful servant of the same One True and Living God that I love and serve? Is it “random” that he was just healed of cancer and felt so inclined to tell ME about it after passing so many other people?

No.

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Jesus lives and He speaks. He is bigger than the box we, or I, sometimes put Him in. He can and will use anyone or anything to speak love and Truth to us, to reveal Himself. WE HAVE TO BE AVAILABLE. Our eyes and ears must be OPEN.

He wanted me to know that if I have faith in Him, pure and undoubting faith, that anything is possible. He will move mountains to heal me, save me, heal my loved ones or save them. Anything. Because He can and I believe.

If I hadn’t given that man (or that angel) some cash, I would have missed out on hearing JESUS speak straight to me. If I hadn’t chose to be available,  I would have missed out on encountering a huge blessing.  If I hadn’t allowed the Holy Spirit to lead me to show hospitality to a complete and utter stranger, I would have missed out on entertaining that angel and feeding Jesus. {Matthew 25: 35-40 read it!}

Remember to read John 17,” he reminded me as we walked away, “remember.”

I went home and immediately opened my bible to John 17 and began to read. It was Jesus praying and speaking to His father. He was praying for blessing and protection over his followers. I encourage you to go and read it. Let Jesus speak to you. He loves you so much. Here is a few verses from John 17…

“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.  I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.  Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.  And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.”

John 17:13-19

Be available. Be available. Be available.

You just might encounter angels.

 

-Katie

picture source: via

i’ve been counting…

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“I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You”

 

Those were the words I heard as I washed each dirty dish from the amazing weekend we just had. they caught me off guard. I stopped and looked at my phone, and saw “the cost” by rend collective. I had been listening to music all morning, singing along, but this was more than just a song. it made me slow down and think. Jesus wanted me to hear these words if I wasn’t going to listen to his.

the past couple of weeks have been hard. personally, I have been struggling spiritually and mentally like never before. God has been shaking me, breaking me down, and laying out the depths of my heart right before my eyes…  I have been learning a few things…

 1-I am a mess. im not perfect and I don’t have it all together. and Jesus loves me still. He doesn’t just love me. He desires intimate relationship, a close knit bond with me. And I realized, after praying this: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts“, that I am not nearly as attached to him as I thought. I am selfish, rude, and all about myself and my needs. and He loves me so wonderfully and passionately yet. I am blown away by this still…

2- Jesus breaks us apart to put us back together. I am in the process of this. He is breaking me, ruining me, sometimes I cry and beg him to take it away but I realized after reflecting on the glorious resurrection, that people must be broken apart in order to be put back together the right way… our Father’s way. And we aren’t, I’m not, hurting and wandering for no reason. There is supernatural, godly purpose for my suffering and heartache. There is purpose for yours.

God is molding me and making me into the Jesus follower that He wants me to be and made me to be. it hurts, but so did the cross. death came, yes, but LIFE sprung out of that grave. and I can trust that whatever God is doing in me and in my trials and life-situations, His purpose is to create in me a pure heart that loves Him and glorifies Him with every beating second. The sinful flesh in me is dying each day that I hold onto Hope. The Spirit, Jesus’s own spirit within me, is growing stronger, stronger, stronger with each slaying of my flesh. I must decrease that He may increase. it hurts. I don’t like it but I love Him. I must stay obedient to saying YES to Jesus because in reality, my “self” is dead. Jesus is the life in me.

“I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful”

 

As I go through this time of refinement and testing of faith, I am reminded through this song and countless prayers and verses, that Jesus doesn’t promise me comfort and safety all the days of my life. Following him is dangerous but, oh, gloriously beautiful. I am broken before Him as I realize that it is in the pain and heartache that I experience closeness with Him because Jesus too suffered. He suffered beyond anything I could ever imagine and He gets it. He understands. and He holds me close. It’s my decision to realize & accept His Presence or not. I am humbled and hurt that I have been neglecting that scarred Hand held out for me.

“I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed
Jesus
Take my all
Take my everything
I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything”

with all of my heart, I want to mean these words. my soul is thirsting to chase him through the desert if that’s what it takes. my flesh and my selfishness have left me choosing hopelessness in this truly minor situation in my life. I realized yesterday during worship that Jesus is Hope and if I lose hope, then what do I have? Hope is Jesus. Jesus is everything.

Jesus, ill carry my cross, confusion and all, because you’re worth it. amen.

 

 

MY HOPE IS ALIVE!

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. {Matthew 28:5, 6 ESV}

He is alive! My hope, Jesus is alive!
Death could not keep him!
Hell could not hold him!

My husband and I woke up before sunrise this morning, pulled out our lawn chairs and went to sit in the drive way to have our own little sunrise service. As the sun was rising, we remembered and read about the
Son who rose!

Friends, we don’t believe in a dead, lifeless being. I serve a LIVING God who once died to save but is now a Reigning King and He lives to give you LIFE!

Let God breath life into you today.

He is ALIVE! Forever!

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-Katie

Today, I remember..

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Today I’m remembering the One.

The one who created the heavens and the earth.

The one who has always lived yet came into this particular creation as a helpless baby.

The one who took his first steps on the same earthy ground He used to create mankind.

The one who taught grown men the ways of God at the tender age of twelve.

The one whose eyes shone like the sun at the mention of His Heavenly Father.

The one who befriended sinners, the worst of them.

The one who gathered up the weak, the unfortunate, and the cheaters and made them into righteous brothers.

The one who brought sight to the blind with one touch of his powerful yet gentle fingertip.

The one who drove out the worst of demons with simply just words.

The one who wept and mourned at the sight of his best friend lying dead.

The one who never even once sinned against His Father God.

The one who gave life to the dead and broken.

The one who authored faith and taught it well.

The one who gave mercy and forgiveness again, and again, and again, and again.

The one who healed his enemies and prayed for those who hated him.

The one who was led to his death like a sheep to the slaughter.

The one who was exalted only to be cut down by those he loved, healed, led, taught.

The one who took the beatings, one after the other.. For hours.. For you.

The one who was mutilated by his own creation.

The one who suffered and cried and hung on by a thread on that cross of crucifixion.

The one who took on each and every bitter and hateful remark.

The one who could vanish in a second and restore all things yet he clung to that cross of death so that we would have a chance at Life.

The one who came to earth to do that very thing.

I remember the love poured out, the sin that was upon him. That was my sin. Our sin. Our sin put him on that cross because without Him, we wouldn’t have a chance to live. We would have died and gotten exactly what we deserved, hell.

But the God of great Love had a different plan. His plan is always good. His plan was to send a Savior who could handle that sin and conquer over it.

And that is who I remember.

The Savior.
The Sin-bearer.
The King of Kings.
The Lord of Lords.
The One who bore our shame and death so that we wouldn’t have to.
The God of Love in the form of man.

Jesus Christ.

I remember Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

And the Hope that He gives…

Because yes, He died.

But He didn’t stay dead.

He BEAT death! He CONQUERED hell! He rose from the grave and left our sin there!!!!

He Reigns, He rules, He has authority to wipe sin out of us because he beat it!

He is the remedy to our vile selves.

And He gives life to all who believe and call upon Him!

I remember that cross and I praise Him because of it.

 

 

Fear is just the beginning

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Fear started in the Eden garden and it blossoms it’s deadly little vines out into our life sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly. It presents itself in many different shapes yet crushes the heart all the same.

Fear.

It has a hold on so many people.. sometimes for their whole life.. and they don’t even know it..

Fear.

it kills dreams, deadens the future, fogs the mind, weakens the heart.

Some people are even afraid of fear itself.

How do we stop it? How does one simply quit… being afraid?

The simple truth is this: fear will live as long as sin reigns on this finite earth.

but it doesn’t have the power that it thinks it does. just like satan, fear has already lost the battle.

you see, fear is just the beginning. and freedom is the end.

in glory, fear flees. in the presence of Jesus, fear bows down low.

so how do you and how do I overcome this fear that so cripples us in the now?

we act. we believe. we trust. we jump.

we act on that fear— are you afraid to take that first step in something that you know God has given you the desire to do or start? act upon that dream & inspiration. make it happen despite fear’s constant nagging. Because God is the only true Constant.

we believe in who He is— If God is for us, who can be against us? is fear bigger than God? Never. we must believe that God is God and nothing can come against Him. He never loses. He never fails. Fear falls dead when it is up against our Mighty and Living God.

we trust— we trust in a Savior who broke the chains. He has broken every chain that holds us down. fear is just a link in the long, clanking, heavy, rope of sin. and Jesus ripped them apart when He arose from death & conquered the grave. Nothing is holding you back. because Jesus is holding you up. “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces.” Psalm 107:14

we jump— Jesus says go. fear says stay. Jesus say serve. fear says don’t move. Jesus says love. fear says freeze. Jesus says have faith. fear says there’s no hope. Who never lies? Who is perfect? Who loves you? Who gave His LIFE for you? Who came to this earth to give you abundant life? Who created you? Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. fear has no room in your life. none. Jesus is everything. He says have faith & live. He says trust Him & believe.

stop letting it control you & let God’s spirit control you. because His spirit is one of power, love, & self-control, NOT fear. & that Spirit has been given to us!

God has been speaking to me powerfully over the past couple of weeks about fear and how it can be defeated in my life. He tells me that sin has no dominion over me therefore I am not a slave to sin (fear) but a slave to righteousness. He tells me that I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me and He will never forsake me. I am realizing that I KNOW these things but sometimes I don’t BELIEVE them. I am slowing down, quieting my mind, and realizing…

The God of Gods, the All Powerful One, the Creator and Sustainer of all things is telling me that He is ever with me. Through thick and thin. Through fear, death, hell, sin, pain, everything. When I believe this, fear does vanish.

I am learning that the only way that I will overcome fear in my own personal life is if I stop talking about it, stop writing about it, stop thinking about it, & just jump. Just believe Him. Just follow Him. While I am afraid.

Right in the middle of my fear, I must act against it.

I am not alone.

-Katie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lately…

Life lately has been all kinds of things. As I think of all the life going on, I come to one word that sums up this season of life that I am in: refreshment. Whether it be deep talks over coffee with a good friend, a much-needed fun date with the husband, or a reminder of our heavenly home, I am being refreshed….

 

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Over the weekend, we were able to visit both of our families for a bit. It was refreshing to see them and catch up. Right after being married, I wanted to go back home pretty much every single day. After growing closer to my husband and learning to trust God where I am at, both my husband and I think of trips back home as more special and dear to us than before. The trips are fewer now because we don’t feel that sting of needing to go back home because together, we are at home. We treasure times spent with our families now more than before & I know that that is a gift from God. I even got to snag my coffee cup I bought right before getting married that I kept leaving at my mom’s house. It’s now where it belongs & so am I.

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Also over the weekend, we attended the funeral & life celebration of a dear man in our home church who finished his race well and left this earth to be with our mighty and sweet Jesus. His name is Bob & I have known him since I was young. He founded & was president of a mission organization focused in Romania. If ever was a man who LOVED Jesus and served Him in every way, it was this man. I always saw him in worship with a smile on his face and arms directing worship. He wasn’t perfect but he was in love with Christ. Thousands and thousands of people, here in the US and in Romania, have been changed because one man loved Jesus so much that He answered the call to go. His life is an inspiration to me to focus ONLY on Jesus & the souls around me. Before his death, I read pages upon pages of facebook posts written by all of the lives that he had touched for Christ. He truly was just a man who served a great God and now He is in the presence of His great God & Savior. Please pray for his wife, Yvonne. Having a husband myself, I can only imagine what she is feeling. I am so thankful that she is in love with the Man who has her man of over forty years safe now in His everlasting arms. It amazes me how the death of a Saint opens up eyes (especially mine) to the reality of Heaven. It’s not a fairytale, far-away place. It is the presence of God in REAL LIFE. Oh, I cannot wait to get home.

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Penny, our Siberian Retriever puppy, made some new friends on our family land this weekend. I’m not sure if she wanted to play or chase them down. They were quite curious as well to see a little deer-looking things sniffing at them.

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My mother-in-law’s tree right outside her window that is always all kinds of pretty depending on the weather. I especially love seeing it today since it’s 50 degrees and rainy this week. It reminds me of this verse six in Nehemiah 9… “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth & everything on it, the seas and all that is in them. And you preserve them all. The host of heaven worships you.” It’s encouraging to know that just like God preserves the beautiful flowers, trees, and the air itself, He preserves us. You and me. We are His beloved children. And He never ever leaves us.

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 I had the delightful opportunity to meet up at a little coffee shop with a dear friend who is finishing up her dental hygiene schooling. We talked about our family, faith, & fears. We are both so much alike {and it’s such a relief to know I’m not crazy} and we both have quite the same personality. The weekend before, on my girls retreat, we took a personality/spiritual gifts test/quiz/cool thing. It revealed what I totally knew was true. I am a type C personality which means cautious, reserved, serving, & sensitive and showed me things I needed to work on spiritually speaking. It was encouraging & refreshing to know that I am not the only one dealing with fear and other things. We were also able to talk lots of photography as we are both up&coming photographers. Oh, and I tried a macaroon for the first time ever. Delish. These things are just too cute. I am now on a mission to be the next macaroon baker. We’ll see. 😉

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And last but certainly not least, my husband and I spent our beautiful Sunday very well. After worshipping, learning, and hearing God speak to us, we set out for downtown. We ate at our favorite local restaurant, went bike shopping only to learn that the bike shops are closed on Sunday and then found ourselves in our new favorite cupcake shop. I indulged in a cookie dough cupcake that had actual cookie dough baked inside the cupcake & hubby inhaled a reece’s peanut butter and fudge cupcake. It was safe to say that our gluten-free diet was over for the month. HA! But it really was. We were proud. And I have decided that I can’t/won’t go back to bread-eating. Oh, besides all of those delicious cupcakes that are calling my name right.. about.. now..

❤ cheers to a new week. and a VERY SPECIAL week, at that. In six short days, we will celebrate the resurrection of the ONE who changed history & eternity forever!

Here is the song we sang Sunday in worship that completely broke me down. While trying to trust God in the hard & good times, I want this to be my heart’s song no matter what.

 

 

xoxo

-Katie