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Dare to See
Discovering God in the Everyday
By Katie Brown
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I have been blessed.
When I feel lonely, I look to God.
When I feel happy, I look to God.
When I am ashamed, I look to God.
When I feel overwhelmed, I look to God.
When I am bursting with joy, I look to God.
When I am all choked up because I feel so warm and fuzzy and full of light, I look to God.
I have been blessed with an intimate walk with God from a young age.
We are partners and collaborators, He and I.
He leads. I walk.
He says jump. I leap.
I turn away.
He jumps in my path and pulls me forward.
I was and still am amazed by the unconditional love and acceptance and celebration I feel shining on me from on high.
No matter what my condition:
I get my walking papers, and find my way by following His beam.
He meets me where I am over and over again.
How, you ask?
How do I know?
Because God is BIGGER than I am.
Deeper than I am.
Better than I am.
He is constant and relentless.
And He always knows best.
My God whispers, He yells, He shines, He cajoles, He pleads, He giggles.
I find Him in the most unexpected places, the most hysterical of situations, in many somber moments.
In Dare to See, I want to share with you some of the points in my life where I have been blessed with God’s grace,
in obvious ways,
in subtle ways,
and always in definitive ways.
These moments have shaped my character, my heart, my life’s path, and my soul’s journey. They have touched my being in ways unimaginable.
Sometimes His road map has been in plain sight.
Other times I have run from it.
Sometimes it has been a joy to receive.
Other times it has been revealed through heartbreaking moments.
Whether I am hiding from it or seeking it, it always finds me in a place I have come to know as the space between.
It is my hope that through sharing these tales, I can help you learn how to develop that muscle of recognition. You can improve your talent of dancing closer with faith, by opening up and into His care and love and direction and conversations with you in the simplest, everyday details.
I have been blessed.
I am a cook, a crafter, a life stylist, a professional homemaker. I have spent twenty years teaching domestic how-to that attempts to improve people’s everyday home life.
Today I hope that through the art of storytelling I can reveal another layer of how to improve your everyday life by walking closer as you experience God’s grace in your own space between.
I hope that you may be able to hear my voice as you read.
I hope that you might feel my heart as you read.
I hope that you might know my desperate need for you to understand God better as you read.
It is my prayer that these stories will move you to understand you are never alone.
It is my prayer that these stories will inspire you to be on the lookout for your blessings.
It is my prayer that you will gain insight into how to recognize His message created just for you and with you.
God has a how-to plan for you that is bigger, better, and more fulfilling than you or I could ever imagine.
His step-by-step instructions are right there, waiting for you.
You just have to seek, and you shall find.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
ISAIAH 30:21 ESV
I had given myself a tight deadline to come up with the title and subtitle for this book. For some reason, I really believed a title would shape the direction, the substance, the way I would hug the narrative as I wrote. I felt, if I could nail the title, I would know how to proceed or even to proceed with the lofty goal of trying to highlight my life’s powerful moments with God by writing simple essays and turning them into a book. I prayed. I cried. I thought I had it. I did not. I would write words on a big white board, hoping to find a combo that would stick.
I would stop mid conversation, turn to my husband, and blurt out a title. I went to bed thinking about it. I woke up daydreaming about it. How could these collections of mismatched stories have a through-line, a theme, that would be universal enough to fit under one title, or for that matter, universal enough to mean anything to anyone else… other than to me.
I was certain the key was in that title, yet what was it? I looked to other authors, authors I had never heard of, but some whom my God-loving mom knew all about. Along the way, I stumbled upon and introduced myself to many fantastic messengers. I read, hoping just one of them might give me a clue:
Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God
Rob Bell’s The Holy Shift Tour
WOW! Those are good titles.
How about, God Talks to Girl? No, too close.
All right, God Is Everywhere Even in the Drive-Through? Nope, a bit too cheeky.
It was Sunday night. I was feeling defeated. Frankly, I was feeling even a bit silly. Who was I to think I could write a book about faith? So, I did what I do on many a Sunday night. I drew a bath for my younger daughter, Meredith, and myself. We crawled in and began talking, laughing, soaking. At one point, as we cuddled together, feeling soothed by the wet warm water, out of the blue Meredith sang in my ear: “And you can find me in the space between.” I shouted out to my husband, William. This was a dangerous move because he had just settled in to watch 60 Minutes. Interrupting him could unnerve him, to say the least. But he dutifully came to the edge of the bathtub…
“The Space Between?” I sheepishly asked.
Meredith said, “That is what I just said.”
“I know,” I said.
William said, “I LIKE IT!”
The Space Between.
Later, I asked Meredith why she was singing that line. She said it was from a Disney movie, Descendants 2 (not to be confused with Descendants 1, which evidently, according to Meredith, is not as good). Meredith explained that the two main characters were supposed to get married, but instead became separated on different planets. The characters were searching for each other. During the search they came upon something like a fake magic wand and a dog eating a pill that made him tell the truth about a vest that made him look fat. Then, the song “Space Between” began to play.
Of course it did!
At this point and time, I felt just as turned around and lost as the two main characters; I, too, was lost on a new planet that may as well have been full of the vest-wearing dogs and wand-wielding witches.
I am a toast-making, curtain-hanging, vapid TV personality who for some reason felt I was being guided to write a book about the biggest, bestest thing life had given me… faith, a faith that was illuminated by a series of God moments.
Yet as the weekend was coming to an end, my self-doubt was looming large. I thought I was nowhere, until it turned out I was somewhere. I was in the space between and Meredith’s soft simple song was with me in that space between. A space where God lives with me and… with you. A space where if you look closely enough and really listen, God will take your hand and somehow guide you to the light.
The word is right there in plain view where you least expect it. The space between can be anywhere and everywhere. It is:
and can never be found by using your GPS.
It is a feeling, a sense, a calm, a light, a love that will touch you in a place and at times when you need it most. And it is lying right there in the last place you would expect to see or hear it.
The space between is:
So, lean into this space. Bend down low, get up close, focus and listen to the nooks and crannies of God’s world to see what you are meant to see, to feel what you are meant to feel.
God’s son was born in a manger, the humblest of places. The space between is not a castle or a gilded chariot. It is a soft, subtle place where everyone can travel if they just turn their head and heart ever so slightly. The good, the bad, and the ugly can be made more meaningful if we just shift subtly and tune into God’s how-to instructions that are put right in front of us every day and in every way.
No, I did not, in the end, use The Space Between as my title.
Because as I began to write, I realized that living in the space between takes courage and commitment. I realized that the space between was a daring place to live. Seeing what God has laid out for you to grab on to takes might. Hence, Dare to See seemed to have the strength I hoped my stories would generate.
However, it was the title that I used to get the book sold to my publisher. It was the title I used when people asked me what I was writing. It was the title that I had in my mind as I gathered the stories I would highlight.
Most important, this title was my ticket to travel to the private space where I experienced and held all my moments that illuminated my walk with God.
A private space that was made more real by the words: The Space Between. A private space that allows me to stand nearer to the love of the Holy, that gives me the calm and energy and understanding I need to find my joy.
Begin looking for your space between, and dare to see what God wants to show you.
For Further Reflection
How has doubt impacted you as you endeavored to achieve something meaningful?
How does God help your boldness in this experience?
How is that endeavor a gift?
Put It into Practice
Grab on to God’s messaging for the help you need to move through doubt in order to find the way forward. God will provide you with the tools you need to accomplish your sincere goals. Know that God is the best co-author of your glorious life story.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your
own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
PROVERBS 3:5–6 NIV
I am not a good student. Books, math, science, not my thing. Coming from a family of academic overachievers who constantly sailed home with A’s as I struggled to drag home C’s was more than humiliating. It was debilitating to always be considered the not-so-bright one. As I am sure some of you know, the loneliness and isolating disorientation that comes from being lost in a classroom can fill someone with loads of shame. Day in and day out, the frustration from continually trying to just keep up can make you feel… defeated.
When it came time for college, I would just get nauseous. Yes, I would become sick to my stomach and overwhelmed by the thought of my fate. My grades qualified me for not much. One evening as I sat in the living room of my home in Northern Michigan, my mother suggested we get in the car and drive to look at schools as far away as the East Coast, in search of a match. Within days we loaded up the car and off we went.
During our travels we stopped at Cornell University. It seemed my father knew someone who taught there and my mother’s mother had gone to Ithaca College, which was located in that same town. My mother had always wanted to visit the campus, so there we were. For me, it was love at first sight. Then, I noticed the hopeless look in my mother’s eyes when I told her that this would be a great place for me. I knew full well I was overreaching.
When I attended church back in my hometown that weekend, I prayed hard. We were at the point in the service where we were instructed to lift our private thoughts up to the Lord. And okay, I cheated a bit because I finished my thoughts early. And as the silence continued, I opened my eyes. My gaze drifted and focused on the last word in the program, a word in bold print and in all caps:
It seemed that the man who had walked me to my pew every Sunday of my youth was named Frank Cornell. I never knew his name before that day…
I never needed to know it before that day.
At that moment, God filled me with the courage to fight my way in. And fight my way in I did. My path was through the art school. I sent in a portfolio, and the next thing I knew I had secured a personal interview. I was questioned by the head of the Fine Art Department who for some reason took a shine to me. I gained admittance into the less academically demanding College of Art, Architecture, and Planning Fine Arts Department. I later transferred into The College of Arts & Sciences and earned a BA in art history four years later.
The fact that I was one of the first students to graduate from Petoskey High School and go on to an Ivy League school was a miracle.
The fact that I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from an Ivy League school was a miracle.
The fact that my many years of academic struggles were being rewarded through growing confidence in my abilities, which I discovered at Cornell, was a miracle.
I am here to tell you, Cornell was the perfect place for me. Within months of entering, a perceptive professor recommended that I be tested, diagnosed, and given some concessions for dealing with my learning disabilities. I was treated to many talented professorial lectures and studied shoulder-to-shoulder with numerous bright students, who taught me how to think and learn in ways that were previously unimaginable to me.
I may not have been the brightest, but with the help of God’s slight how-to nudge, I landed in a place that allowed my mind to swell.
I know, I know. God doesn’t always place into your hand a program with a message in bold print… sometimes He needs you to read the fine print.
Rest assured, no matter which of life’s church pews you are sitting in, God is giving you the answers. No, not always in written form. But he will always do it in a way that no matter what your challenges are, you will be able to read and comprehend.
For Further Reflection
When have you walked a path that seemed impossible?
How did God’s direction affect your walk?
How was this lofty trail a gift?
Put It into Practice
Release your questions to God and be on the ready to receive direction. Sit, think, push, and move toward where you want to be for it is in the striving that you will be blessed by God’s grace, which is wiser and will guide you toward relief from the chains that bind, and into a world of wonder.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
JOSHUA 1:9 ESV
My dad was a pilot. He loved to fly. He used to say there was a freedom to flying. He said that, up there, he could go up or down, right or left, whenever and however he wanted to. He found it peaceful when he flew. He claimed he discovered mesmerizing beauty in the air that rivaled anything he had seen on the ground.
When I was in about fifth grade, my dad went in on the purchase of an airplane with two of his friends. They split the costs, like the hangar fees, the airport charges, etc. We would spend weekend afternoons washing the plane, organizing the charts, and pumping up the tires.
My dad had long been enamored with aviation. He grew up in wartime, watching footage of planes with hero pilots emerging from them. It captured his imagination. In college, he enrolled in ROTC in hopes that he would fly for the Navy. But in his senior year, the five-year requirement seemed just too long, so he reluctantly took an assignment on a ship because it had a two-year requirement instead.
When the United States first landed on the moon, my father came home from the office and made everyone gather around the TV to watch. One of our babysitters was there. My father turned to her at one point and said,
“Wouldn’t you love to go there and walk around?”
“Oh no, Mr. Brown,” she replied. “I am afraid of heights!”
He told that story over and over again. He found it so funny.
But I understood what she meant.
Space, the sky, the clouds, they did not hold the same fascination for me that they did for my dad. Soaring around up there in the backseat of that small, rattly plane scared me. It all made me a bit queasy. Looking out and over the wing at the ground took my breath away. But not in a good way. It was in a more panicky way.
My brain was not like my father’s. I did not think like an engineer, the way he did…
On good days
On sunny days
When it was smooth sailing
When he sat in the left seat (that’s where the pilot sits; the right seat is reserved for the copilot)
When he sat in the left seat, with his head set on, speaking pilot talk, and I was in the seat behind him and the plane was buzzing and rumbling and humming along…
I would feel safe and calm and so grateful for his aptitude. Those days I felt happy, lucky to follow him up in the air, where I would find animals and faces and flowers and trees in the shadows and in the curves of the clouds.
It was a carefree feeling.
It was a weightless feeling.
It was a heavenly feeling.
In those moments, I was not scared of heights like my babysitter was.
In those moments, I felt anything was possible.
In those moments, I felt if we went up up up, who knows what kind of wonderful we might find.
But when the bumps came and when the rain fell, when lightning sparked and flashed in the distance, I would get scared for him. I would get scared for me, for my sisters, brother, and mother. I would clutch the seat. I would hold my breath, and I would pray. Oh… the promises I made to the Good Lord above. Oh… the deals I made.
But when the weather started to roar, my dad’s love of flying soared. He was a great pilot. Approximately 50 percent of all pilots get their instrument ratings, but only 15 percent keep their ratings current. Dad logged in enough hours, received enough instruction, to get his instrument rating. That meant he could fly under instrument rules, or for those in the know, IFR. In other words, he could fly in the toughest conditions. My dad loved the challenges that came with turbulence and storms.
He explained it like this: You file your instrument flight plan with air traffic control when you want to go up in treacherous weather. When you do, it allows you to have a preplanned route through the air that is only for you. For example, when there is so much cloud cover that you cannot see what is in front of you or below you, that is the moment in flying when you really have to have faith in your instruments. That is the moment you can no longer rely on your senses. Those instruments, and the electricity you cannot see that informs them, is all you can rely on. In those moments, the mechanics of it—the combination of fuel and electronics and engineering—were a marvel to him.
They were a marvel to me, too, but in quite a different way. To me it would be a mysterious marvel, something I could never really grasp. When my head was in those clouds, charging through foul weather, I went through a myriad of emotions: fear, worry, suspense. My body would fill with tension and I would experience the most catastrophic thinking. Then the plane would start to beep beep beep. The clouds would clear, signaling that the runway was near. Moments before we would land, I could see the ground and I would begin to breathe again.
Alleluia, I would think.
Simultaneously, those were the only moments when my dad would say that being a pilot could become demanding. “During the landing,” he explained, “is when you have to work with air traffic control. It’s when you have to focus on the runway lights. It’s when you have to rely on your own depth perception to spot and judge your relationship to other planes.” My dad never broke a sweat when he flew. He used to tell me, “You do not panic in a car; well, flying is just like riding in a car. You know the car will do what it is supposed to do. A plane is just as reliable. You trust your car and you should trust our plane.” It seemed so obviously logical to him.
He valued that the view up there showed you a world that was unperceivable when you walked the earth: the checkerboard landscapes, the snaking shapes of the rivers, the perfect roundness of lakes and ponds, and the tops of trees. Dad said that nighttime, especially when flying in the western sky, over very few towns, caused an endless blackness that was breathtaking.
When we touched down no matter what the weather, he would calmly unload us all out of the cramped plane, pile us into the car, and head for home.
On the ride home, I would run through my head all the different possible endings to our flight we could have experienced. I would wonder if my father ever did this. If he ever prayed to God as the wind blew and the plane bumped around. Or if he just knew he had the instruments and skills to get us through almost any weather the atmosphere brought our way.
I realized then that faith was an individual thing. It’s a morph-able thing. Tailored to the individual soul. God is an adept engineer who knows what your instrument rating is at any given time.
Sometimes you have to rely solely on God’s guidance because you cannot see your way through the storm. Sometimes God will provide you with a view that will get you through. Sometimes you might have to lean into your skills—along with GOD’s grace—in order to land you right where you need to be.
I am afraid of heights. I believe we are all afraid of something. Even my confident father, with mad flying skills, recognized that extreme weather conditions would keep him from flying.
I humbly ask you, please hold on to the belief that those phony heights, those fake fears, can be conquered when you trust and believe in God as your pilot in the LEFT seat as you sit in the RIGHT seat—you’re a cooperating copilot.
Be in the RIGHT seat so that you can be handed the instruments you need to get to where you have to go.
For Further Reflection
When have you trusted, and when have you been frightened?
How did God help you through your fear?
How was your trust a gift?
Put It into Practice
Trust that God will be there to navigate you through all the storms that you will fly through. Believe that God knows when to take you up into the weather and when to allow you to land on sunny shores.
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.
GENESIS 32:24 ESV
Wine, margaritas, beer, gin and tonics, sangria, rum punches are all my friends. Or maybe I should really say they are all my frenemies. Me and drinking have always had a thing. We have always had a love-hate relationship.
My mother and father were both teetotalers. Why? Well, they had reasons. First, my mother had an alcoholic father. My dad grew up hearing tales of his alcoholic grandfather. They both believed that there was a good chance that alcoholism is genetic. They believed that they and their children were at greater risk to become alcoholics. More than that, they loved life and felt grateful to be on this earth. They couldn’t understand why anyone would want to alter the experience of living for even one single moment of the day.
These lines were at least part of the song I heard in my head whenever I reached for a mood-altering beverage.
The other chorus was from way down deep—deep down in my being. It was a need to get out of myself. A need to move beyond the limits of comfort. Many who do not know me well will find it hard to believe I am shy. Truly, without the aid of alcohol, I am not sure I could have sat through many past conversations or parties, or accomplished many of the things I have because I was just too riddled with self-doubt.
In the quest to get creative and dig deeper, I often turned to the aid of a few drinks. Under their influence, I would often find myself drifting into a creative place that I might never have stumbled upon without the loosening effects of alcohol. Time and time again I find I need to be awakened from a mood that is not serving me well or those around me. When I down a drink, things seem a bit brighter and lighter.
- On Sale
- Sep 24, 2019
- Page Count
- 256 pages