Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beyond Thriller

In Chapter 9 of my book I explain...

My dreams as a child were inspired by Michael Jackson.  They were nightmares, actually.  After viewing Jackson's Thriller video at the age of four, I couldn't quite seem to get those zombie-like monsters out of my subconscious mind.  They frequently came after me in the middle of the night when I should have been dreaming about more pleasant things, such as Candy Mountain, My Little Ponies, or the day I would go to Disney World and meet Minnie Mouse.

Sometime around second grade I told my dad about the nightmares and he instructed me, "The next time you have one, I want you to say, 'I rebuke you Satan.  In the name of Jesus I command you to leave."  I didn't know what the word rebuke meant, but the very next time those zombies came around I rebuked them in the name of Jesus and it worked like a charm.  All the Thriller-like zombies scattered and I haven't had a nightmare since. ~ Excerpt from I Hate Books on Christian Dating

Michael Jackson in Thriller * Photo from LA Times Music Blog

It's true, for most of my life I've been relatively nightmare free.  However, this past month I had two rather intense nightmares within the course of one week.  And, in both dreams, an evil presence - one in the form of a demonic spirit, and one in the form of a snake - grabbed ahold of my body, and I couldn't get it to let go of me.  Desperately I tried to rebuke "it" in the name of Jesus, but somehow it had a stronghold on vocal chords, and physically, I couldn't open my mouth to speak, nor could I breathe.  But I kept trying and fighting to open my mouth and eventually I was able to use my words, and speak in my dream, "In the name of Jesus I command you to leave."  And as I did, the evil presence let go of my body, and I abruptly awoke from my sleep.  Still, I continued to speak the words over and over aloud until I felt safe and confident, that in Jesus' name, I had the authority.

Now, I didn't intend to go public on such a bizarre experience.  Except, this past Sunday at church, the speaker shared in her talk about how she used to have nightmares when she was young, but more recently God has spoken to her through dreams in beautiful ways to encourage her and others in their life journeys.  (On a side note, this female speaker is a gifted communicator and business woman, as well as a wife, and mom of two. She works in faculty development at the University of Michigan, helping make doctors better leaders.) 

Following the sermon, as we transitioned into communion, the lead pastor said that if anyone has struggled with nightmares, or perhaps just started having them this past week, that he and the speaker would be over in the prayer station area to pray for those individuals at the end of the service.  Well, hello now.  I've been to churches where someone will sense someone needs prayer for something - typically a health issue - but I've never heard anyone specifically name nightmares as the thing to receive prayer for.

So, towards the end of the service, I sought out the speaker Brandie, and she prayed over me.  But before she did, I briefly explained, how I've been wrestling with health issues for the past few years, and that in these nightmares I'm not able to speak.  I told her, I know God has a future for me in speaking and writing, but right now, I'm feeling a bit stuck with my health being subpar.

After Brandie prayed for me, she told me,  "I just sense... you have something amazing to say... and you're going to say it."

I hope so.  I sure do hope so.

My Life Mission Statement: To be a voice of truth that sets women free to embrace the gifts that God has given them, that they, in turn, might make a significant impact in the world.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Randy's Barbeque

A week or so ago, while I was out for a run, a man tried to gain my attention as he was getting into his truck.  In New York, I would have blown right past him, as a natural defense mechanism for needing solo running time amidst the crowds of tourists who always have questions, men making hit on type comments, and homeless persons begging for money. 

When I first moved to the city I'd feel guilty when I pretended not to hear what was being spoken.  I felt like I was being deceitful and unkind, even though my ear buds and running shoes suggested I was unavailable for dialogue.  My counselor friend Stacey assured me, that in a city like New York, taking time for yourself - even amidst the crowds - is simply a part of self-care.  She reminded me, if you make yourself overly available to everybody, you won't be any good for anybody.

But running in Michigan - in the middle of winter - is a far different experience.  While I'm out for a jog near our lake house, I might pass by maybe six or seven individuals - not six or seven thousand pedestrians from all around the world.  So, without hesitation, I stopped to see what the truck man wanted.  And in doing so, I finally met THE Randy, of Randy's Roadside Bar-B-Que.

Randy's place is open in the summer months, and located a couple of miles from where my parents reside.  Long ago it was a donut shop, and when I was a kid, my mom and I would frequent the trailer for long john donuts.  I can't recall when exactly the donut shop went out of business, but it was before I started wearing a bikini, when access donut chub was a non issue.  With that having been said, I ate a donut both yesterday and today, and strongly feel everyone should eat a donut at least once a month.

But back to Randy.  I mention him and his Barbeque place, because I'm reminded of the uniqueness of living in a small town, rural area.  There's a good chance you'll actually meet the owner of a place when you go.  For instance, last winter, while at Jerry's Pub on a neighboring lake, I chatted some with Jerry while I was there watching Michigan basketball.

In addition, there is the element of running into people you know at the corner store gas station, the grocery store, the pharmacy, and pretty much any where you go.  I may see far less people here in rural Michigan when I'm about and about, but I'm far more likely than in New York, to see someone I know from years ago.  And there's something special about that - it's called community, held in place by years of people sticking around, in contrast to the transient ebb and flow of city life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Women of a Different Breed

This morning a friend of mine shared with me a piece she had written, and after I insisted it needed to go viral, she okayed for me to post it on my blog.  So here it is, my first Guest Blog post, by my friend Amy.

Women of a Different Breed

It's not that we don't want to marry.
    It's that we won't compromise.
It's not that he has to be perfect.
    But he must have enough characteristics of The Perfect Man.
It's not that we need a relationship for the purpose of being with someone.
    After all, we've never been alone.
It's not that we are helpless by ourselves.
    We have a Helper and we've never had want for anything.
It's not that we have nothing to offer therefore we sit alone.
    It's that we've embodied His Everything and are content enough.  Until he comes.

We are not single because we're broken, ugly, or disdain.
    We are fully aware we are beautiful in His sight.
We are not waiting for someone specific, but only a gentle and courageous warrior -
    skilled, proven, and trusted by the One Holy God.

We are not like other women so do not compare us.  Do not pity us, or play matchmaker.  But love us with grace and patience.  Don't examine our imperfections or hypothesize what's wrong with us.  Consider, perhaps, we're right - and all around us are out of step.  We're simply experiencing a different life than most women aim to lead.

We don't want your categorization or dismissal, so please don't set us on a shelf.  Don't regard us as half full, half equipped, or incomplete because we're missing our other "half."  We are simply a remnant of women, who are doing His Bidding, at His Pace and, in His Time the other "he" will come.  But until then, call us His Maidens.  A special breed, very rare, yes indeed.

We've been allotted extra time alone, so we can know Him more all the more complete.

Only the man who is strong enough to be willing to be putty in His hand will be the one to whom we will quietly relent - and with our hearts, surrender.  Only for he who approaches us with His Permission to join us on our journey Home will we trade our habit for a wedding veil.

Not broken, but whole.
Not poor, but rich.
Not vain, but complete.
Not fools, but wise.

We are living out His Goodness in different terms than you.  But it's His perfection we are living in - we know no need but Him. 

This road that we have chosen, and upon which we daily tread comes with sacrifices, true.  But we'd rather pay this price as we wait for the right man, versus living as though a man can make life right.

Accept us for who we are, unattached, free agents of a very Powerful and All-Knowing King.  Let us live without the pressure of the expected, damning singlehood.  Instead, let us go about our business for our Master, watch what He will do with our vessels, and perhaps, someday it will happen.  But marriage isn't everything.  Everything is our union with our Beloved King.  ~AJH

Amy is passionate about Jesus, life, and politics. To read more by Amy, here is  Amy's Blog

Monday, February 10, 2014

Running Laps

While a friend and I were out to dinner the other night, a woman walking by our table collapsed to the floor.  The large man she had dined with immediately hovered over her, trying to figure out what happened, while the manager of the restaurant called an ambulance. 

After assessing it wasn't a seizure, I noticed the woman's right arm laying limp, near the base of my chair.  I knew at that point, the most I could do, is help comfort her as we waited for the medical professionals to arrive.  So I reached down to this stranger, and offered her my hand to hold.  Immediately she gripped it tight.  Even with the big man she knew well standing over her, somehow I knew that offering her my hand would provide this woman additional comfort, support, and reassurance that she is going to be alright.

I shared this anecdote with a city man last night, thanking him and explaining that is what he has been for me since my return to the Midwest.  I wrote, "Thank you for extending your hand for me to hold in my transition from New York back to Michigan - for providing that additional comfort, care, and support.  Even though I know God is in this with me, as I've stated before, you've been good medicine for me as my body continues to heal.  Thank you for the phone calls, the e-mails, and sharing your writing with me.  It has been good getting to know your heart, and I am thankful that I've had the opportunity."

A month or two ago a meme with the following message showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. "Dating Tip: Run as fast as you can towards God, and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself."  I was tempted to comment, "I must run too fast... or it could be that I'm jumping out of airplanes."  But I refrained from writing anything because I knew I'd be writing out of frustration.  You see, when I was a student at the University of Michigan - 15 years ago - my mentor shared a similar version of this approach to dating with me.  "Run as fast and hard as you can towards God, and as you do, glance to your left and to your right from time to time to see who is running with you."  She explained, the men running with me would be the best men for me to marry.  As a 20 year old, this sounded like the perfect dating strategy to ensure me a wedding by the age of 30.  (I write this post at the age of 35, knowing that running towards God - fast, slow, or not at all - has no correlation as to whether or not you find somebody to marry.)

Running path around Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park

But being a runner, I liked that visual.  And actually, over the years, I've had a good number of men run with me, and be a source of strength and encouragement through challenging seasons in life.  Some of the men stuck by my side simply in friendship, while others ran with me in romance.  Regardless of romance or friendship, it feels different when male support is extended.  It does something to the psyche of a woman, just knowing she's not running alone, and that a man is beside her in the journey. 

But for some reason, it's like I'm stuck on this track, where men will come and run a few laps with me, but I have yet to meet someone who wants to sign up to run the marathon with me.  I know the stats are against me.  But I'm still hoping, someday, someone, will choose to run with me for the long haul.  In the meantime, I'm grateful for the many men who have come alongside of me, and ran with me for the time that they did.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

PO Box 100

To be honest, I didn't want to go this route.  I wanted to self fund my writing pursuits with whatever job I was "supposed" to have landed in NYC this past fall.     

But with each job possibility that is answered with a no, I get the sense that God is going to continue to close doors until I step into what He has been moving in me for the past several years - to write and to speak.  And that in doing so, I would need to ask for help (which isn't easy.)  I told God, as long as PO Box 100 was available in my hometown, I would give it a go, and invite others to partner with me.  As life would have it, PO Box 100 was open for the taking at my local post office.

Tonight, on the precipice of Super Bowl XLVIII, I recall the Super Bowl in Miami that I won tickets to four years ago.

Through my experience of Super Bowl XLIV, I sensed God impressing upon me I needed to start taking more risks in life and in my writing.  And so when the opportunity presented itself to move from Southern California to NYC, I did.  And last year, I finally finished writing my first book - a message I anticipate will encourage many others in their faith journey.

But now I need to find a way to make that book available, and so today I launched my 100 X 100 Party campaign via facebook and on my website, where my first chapter is currently posted.  If you'd like to join the party, all the info. you need to know is down below. 

100 X 100 Party!

Book Launch 2014! Join Me! 100 X 100 in 100 Days!

WHAT IF in the next 100 days (Feb. 1 to May 11), I could find 100 friends who would be willing to give $100 towards launching my first book. Of course, contributions of ALL sizes $1 to $1,000 are welcome! For individuals who contribute $100 or more a thank you pre-release copy of the book will be mailed to you this summer. 100 X 100 = $10,000, the amount needed to cover the cost of editing, design, printing, and other book launch related expenses. 10,000 is also the number of youth, college students, and young adults I’ve invested in over the past 18 years.

If I’ve somehow impacted your life, will you consider investing in me so I can impact tens of thousands of more lives through my writing and speaking? Again, every dollar makes a difference, so sending even just $1, would be amazing!

Paypal to
Or snail mail to Katrina Blank PO Box 100 Onsted, MI 49265

* For those of you whom I have coached, taught, RDed, ADed, took on skate trips, camp trips, and overseas trips, led your small group, Young Life group, etc., please consider rallying a few others from your group or team I led to pool together $100 for this endeavor.