Weakness: the topic no one wants to talk about

I have a confession to make: Though I love what I do, I struggle more days than not. So many of you encourage me, telling me, “You are so strong; so brave to do what you do… AND WITH A FAMILY! It’s so inspiring!”

But most mornings, when I wake up, my superhero cape has dissolved into a misty cloud I barely catch a glimpse of as reality closes in. I feel overwhelmed, under-qualified, and to be honest, I just feel tired.

tired mom2

It’s such a weird contrast: I get to witness God do such extraordinary things! I have an amazing calling to daily do missions and to share His GOOD NEWS to so many who have never heard. And yet, often at the end of my day, all is not “rainbows and roses:” I’m disappointed by those to whom I have given my all, but who still don’t respond; I feel the burden of yet more unreached people; I hear the annoying buzz of unanswered questions; I feel torn by my obligations to be a good wife/mom AND to steward a thriving, yet very busy, ministry. In these moments, I come to the inevitable conclusion:

I am not a superhero. I am not a super-mom. I am not a super-woman. I am not a super-anything! I am just an everyday person, living an impossible life and needing HIM every second of my day.

It would be easier to blog about my last biggest “success.” Or to share a recent testimony, of which, because God is so good, there is no lack.

But, sometimes, I just want you to know that I am weak. That, except for His staying power in me, I cannot do what I do. Without Him, I am not very strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Living Bible)

“Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities.”

A couple of weeks ago, I caught a stomach virus that left me running to the bathroom, for multiple reasons. I had mountains of work to do: people to visit, meetings to attend, children to care for, ministry to run, and a house to clean. But, I found myself flat in bed for two days. In addition, the second day of my illness, I rolled over in bed, and started experiencing extreme vertigo. For those of you who may not know what this is, it is NOT a slightly dizzy feeling one has after swimming all day, or when you spin in a circle for a moment. It is rapid, extreme spinning that prevents you from walking, and is so severe, it causes instant nausea and vomiting.

I am a “go to” girl! I love to get things done. I love to be independent and finish tasks and care for my family. I hate feeling sick, and I HATE feeling weak!

For three days, I was flat on my back, feeling the weight of my growing to-do list. One morning, I got up and was hopeful I could “get back to work” and then the room began to spin again. I was so frustrated, I started crying.

Wrapped in my cocoon of self-pity, frustration and helplessness, I cried out to God,

“What is going on???!!!”

In spite of my exasperation and demands, He answered me. I didn’t hear anything, but I felt it. His peace began to permeate me. He seemed to be telling me to just rest, trust, and let Him be God in my life, no matter how I feel. As I was lying in bed, tears dampening my cheeks, I was reminded of a prayer I had prayed over a man in a wheelchair the week before: “Jesus, You are the anchor for His soul.”

This sentence began to echo through my mind. HE is the anchor for my soul. I realized in the midst of my helplessness and frustration, that I DID have an powerful choice: I could hope and rest in Him!

Hebrews 6:19 (The Voice)

“That hope is real and true, an anchor to steady our restless souls, a hope that leads us back behind the curtain to where God is…”

Anchor in Clear Blue Sea

When does a boat need an anchor? When the waters are choppy, the current is strong, and the pilot of the boat needs to rest, but cannot risk damage to the boat. Also, an anchor is really small in comparison to the size of the boat.

This is such a beautiful picture of hope! Hoping in Him doesn’t feel like much. We feel we aren’t doing enough. In fact, the effort seems so small compared to the immense size of our monumental problems, that it’s tempting to just see it as irrelevant.

But, hoping in Him, waiting on Him, looking to Him is so powerful! It steadies us in the wildest times, in the hardest moments.

When we are exhausted, and can’t seem to get any momentum, rest or consolation, hoping in Him IS our rest. HE is my consolation. I can park my boat and rest, knowing that He is the anchor who will hold me true.

The following night, at 3am, I woke with the room terrifically spinning. I cried out, asking Rob for help. He immediately awoke, and began to pray for me. All I could say as I was desperately wanting to sleep and to experience relief was, “Jesus, I hold onto You. You are the anchor for my soul. I hold onto You…” I repeated this over and over.

At some point, I realized I was wrong: I wasn’t holding onto Him. HE was holding onto ME! It was a powerful moment when I let go and let Him do what He does best.

My soul began to rest. As it did, the spinning slowed, my fears receded, and though the waters were choppy, my soul was unmoved. He was holding onto me and He wasn’t letting go.

That was 2 1/2 weeks ago, and I haven’t had another vertigo episode since that night. I have had moments of slight dizziness. My responsibilities to my family, ministry, etc, haven’t disappeared. I still can feel overwhelmed.

But, I feel stronger. Only now, I know, it isn’t me. It is the staying power of His presence in me!Kathryn at RFC

So, I am no super-hero. I am not a supermom. I am not a superwoman.

But, I have discovered a secret that makes me strong:

He is the anchor for my soul.


Crackers and Cream Cheese

I never thought crackers and cream cheese could have any spiritual purpose. But, if there is one thing I am learning doing missions work in Mexico, is that little things can have great impact. Even a snack.

As a missionary family, we are involved in a variety of churches in our area. Some Sundays are what we call our “Marathon Sunday.” We will begin the day attending a 10 a.m. service in the town we live in, San Juan del Río. Then, we will pile into the car and drive about an hour away, to a country church in “San Francisco.” (Not to be confused with San Francisco, California. Nope. Not even close!)

We attend, and often preach to the little congregation there, numbering about 40 attendees, if you include the cows that are meandering about outside in the grass parking lot. By the time we finish the service, it is 3:00 in the afternoon, and my family (who breakfasted at 9 a.m.), is feeling pretty grumpy and faint from hunger. 

After following this routine for a couple of weeks, “Momma” got smart and decided we needed a strategy to survive “Marathon Sundays:” a snack! Now, we stop at a roadside convenient store, and purchase cream cheese and crackers. I keep a roll of paper towels and plastic spoons on hand in the car, and my family of 7 each gets a paper towel, (except for dad cause he is the driver), and a steady supply of crackers spread with cream cheese, as we travel down the Mexican highway. 

We hadn’t been doing this very long when Sandra, a friend of ours who attends church in San Francisco, asked me to meet with a friend of hers who needed help: Jane* had two small children, but hadn’t seen them for weeks because her husband was leaving her. In her despair, she believed suicide was her only option. I met Jane and began to ask her if she knew the Lord. She had never known more than an occasional religious service that held no meaning for her. 

As I began to explain to her the plan of salvation and the great love that Father God has for her, she clung to my words like a drowning man to a lifesaver, tears streaming down her cheeks. I spent some time reading verses from the Bible, and then prayed for her. She told me simply hearing the Bible had brought her peace.

When I encouraged her to continue reading, I found out she didn’t have a Bible! That week, I shopped around for the loveliest Bible I could find and brought it to her. Her smile made the two hour trip worthwhile.

Several months later, when I was visiting with her again, she committed her life to Jesus.


Jane loves her new Bible!

A few weeks after meeting Jane, Sandra told me her mother was dying and asked me if I would speak with her. I agreed, and then Sandra cautioned me that her mother had never accepted Sandra’s beliefs and that every time Jesus was brought up, her mother would become angry and insist she would hear no more. Oh boy. Not exactly what you want to hear right before you take the plunge to share the Gospel!

Sandra’s mother is about 4 1/2 feet tall, and she was in a frail condition, bent over almost double. She was struggling to walk, and required assistance for basic tasks. But, Sandra was determined. She introduced us and I began to call her mother, “Mamita.” (meaning “little mother” in Spanish, a term of endearment here).  I began to explain to her the plan of salvation. She was agitated, moving about in her seat, running her hands over her eyes, and I braced myself for an explosion. The one advantage I had was that Mexican culture is very gracious, and it would be a serious affront for a Mexican to berate, confront, or argue with someone they had just met. So, I plunged ahead, but I could see she wasn’t happy with the conversation. 

I began to share with her about my own Grandma and her rejection of our beliefs. My Grandma used to become angry and lash out when I would speak to her about Jesus. But, she loved to travel and would plan extensive trips. One day, my dad asked her if she would like to plan her trip to Heaven, and began to share books with her about Heaven and the life after death. My grandma began read and consider, and over time, accepted Jesus as her Lord. 

I had just finished the story when “Mamita” looked up at me (making eye contact for the first time since the conversation had begun), and said, 

“I need to go to the bathroom.” 

My hopes for her plummeted.  “This is not going well,” I thought.

Twenty minutes later, Mamita was sitting back down again, and I was at a loss for how to proceed. I began to ask her about how she had been feeling. She began to tell me about her pain, her elevated blood pressure, blood sugars, mobility issues, etc. 

“But, you know the thing that is disturbing me the most right now are my nerves,” she confided in me. 

“Your nerves? What is happening?”

“I must be going crazy. For the last week, just as I am falling asleep, these horrible voices begin to speak to me,” she replied. “They are saying things like, ‘You belong to us.’ ‘You’re coming with us.’ I sit up in bed and look around to see who is saying such horrible things, but no one is there. I feel such terrible fear and then begin to have a panic attack.”

Chills began to run up my arms as she confided in me. I gently took her by the hands and told her, 

“Mamita, that isn’t your nerves. Those are spirits who have gathered to receive you when you die. You see, when you don’t belong to Jesus, the One who represents life, and hope and peace, there is another reality. And that is an eternity without God and His presence. These spirits represent the torment, fear, and darkness that awaits those who have not accepted what Jesus did for us to make us God’s own children.”

I went on to explain what Jesus did for us on the cross, and the power of entrusting our lives into His care. She listened with her head bowed, gazing at the ground. When I finished, she looked me in the eye again and said, 

“I’d like to give my life to Jesus.” 

Sandra was there beside us as we prayed. We were three women sitting in a circle: One woman, a daughter, berated for her beliefs, now silently weeping as she watched her mother take a step she had believed impossible. Another woman, her hands gripping mine, the wrinkles and sign of age giving way to a beautiful smile as she prayed. The third woman, looking out of place with blonde hair and light skin, praying with “Mamita” to receive Jesus in a language not her own. This moment was a little piece of Heaven on earth.


“Mamita” is on the far right, with her daughter Sandra, and 3 of our kids. This is the day she received Jesus. Update: her doctor says she is no longer dying! She is getting better each day and last time I visited with her, she said she was feeling well enough that she was thinking about getting a boyfriend.

A few weeks after this glorious moment, Sandra wanted me to talk with her niece, Sara*. Sara has two children, is unmarried, and was not making good decisions for her life or her family.  Sara’s mother had had enough of her irresponsibility and was going to have her children taken from her. Just as I did with Jane and Mamita, I sat next to Sara and began to talk about her life, her decisions, and her need for Jesus. She agreed, and prayed with me to receive Jesus. 

She asked me to accompany her to talk to her mom and convince her to give her another chance. I did, and two hours later, her mother, (Laura*), went from raging about her daughter to me, to allowing me to pray with her and her daughter. Laura is still staunchly against Christian beliefs, but she said that if it would help her daughter change, she is not going to stop her from learning more about Jesus. 

I continue to pray for Sandra’s family, that they will ALL experience an encounter with Jesus and will be united in love for Him. The amazing part about Laura is that even though she vehemently disagrees with Christianity, she has allowed me to pray with her twice. The last time I visited her, she told me as I was leaving, 

“Katy, (what everyone calls me here, pronounced “Kah-tee”), I want you to know you are always welcome in my home. And don’t just feel like you can only come with my sister. Come visit me sometime without her, and bring your family.” 

Sandra was there when Laura said this, and told me,

“That is the first time my sister has ever opened up to a Christian. She isn’t just saying this. If she invited you to come to her house, then she really trusts you and wants you to come back.” 

Later that evening, my family arrived home from San Francisco and piled out of the car. The sun had gone down; We had spent our entire day in church, traveling and ministering to people. I was exhausted and looking forward to a good nights’ rest! 

That’s when I noticed the mess. As I began picking up trash and sweeping cracker crumbs from the seats of our car, I began to think about Jane, Mamita, Sara and Laura.

Just like the many crumbs, we are scattering seed on so many hearts and lives, and we are seeing miracles take place!

Our Sunday snacks are messy, and it’s not always easy to spend the day driving out to the little group of believers in the country town. But, I certainly wouldn’t trade this for the world. And the crackers and cream cheese? They are truly a life-saver. In more ways than one.

*Names changed to protect individuals’ privacy.


Joey enjoying his cracker/cream cheese snack in the car.

Furlough in Missouri


My Large (but beautiful) Family

For the past two weeks, I’ve been driving my minivan around town and faithfully performing the following duties:

  • Dr. Appointments
  • Dental Visits (all 5 kids need their teeth cleaned and ISAAC has cavities….)
  • Orthodontic appointments (Isaac again)
  • New Driver’s license
  • Homeschooling
  • Walmart (to buy a fresh supply of underwear and socks for the next 9 months…)
  • Laundry
  • Laundry
  • Laundry


Actually, looking at the final three items, I’ve been ignoring some of the above mentioned duties…oops.

This list can probably be found in every suburban mother’s home, complete with children and the minivan with the sticky seats. Unfortunately, my official job description is not “stay-at-home Missouri Mom,” but “international missionary mom home on furlough.” The key word in both descriptions is “Mom,” and there’s no escaping the fact that motherhood trumps fancy job descriptions and reduces you to that lady who never has enough hours in her day….

Our furlough home has been interesting. I had this secret wish list of things to do upon arriving in Missouri:

  • Visit family
  • Hang out with friends (show them I’m learning to drink coffee…. Actually, I don’t think “official” coffee drinkers consider a “Latte” to be true coffee, but I’m breaking a non-coffee habit of 36 years…)
  • Indulge in the following hard-to-find foods in Latin America:
    • DR. PEPPER
    • Steaks cooked Medium Rare with no fear of food poisoning
    • Sour Cream. On everything… Except the Lattes.
    • American Candy, especially Reese’s Pieces.
  • Catch up on some needed rest
  • Take long soaks in the bathtub with very hot water
  • And, hey, maybe asking too much, but it’d be nice to see some snow. (Just the pretty kind that falls and doesn’t stick or make the roads dangerous.)


My actual time home has been much, much busier. Our crazy schedule has made the above list a bit challenging to accomplish. On the bright side, my list looks like a solid plan for “How to Gain Weight Effortlessly,” so it’s probably for the best.

To give you a little idea of what a five-week furlough can look like, in the last 5 weeks, we:

  • Drove 2,500 miles (not counting Rob’s 1,500 mile drive to Juarez, Mexico, & back)
  • Changed time zones 3 times (4 if you count going onto daylight savings time)
  • Traveled through the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri
  • Visited 6 different churches and one para-church ministry
  • Went to 10 office appointments
  • celebrated 3 birthdays and an adoption
  • Unpacked/Re-packed/Unpacked (again!) a total of 8 suitcases
  • recorded a radio/podcast interview (here’s my plug for NextGen Worship, you should take a listen sometime)


I don’t know if you’ve picked up on the trend yet, but I’m become very proficient at making lists. (Maybe I should’ve used the word obsessive instead of proficient…?)

Where am I heading with all of this?

Please know, first of all, I’m really not complaining. It’s so great to see our dear friends, family and supporters!

I’m blogging about this because it’s such a contrast of roles:

One minute, I’m sharing my great passion for the beautiful people in Mexico and Panama, and the next moment I’m sitting in the car singing “On the Road Again” with the kids. The slide shows, highlight videos, and RKMissions T-shirts morph into another round of suitcases, our trusty GPS unit, and another pile of laundry.

Hold on a sec. I WILL complain about that! Do any of you ever feel like that pile of laundry should really be called “Mt. NEVEREST?” As in, it will NEVER get done, EVER(est)? I have been stepping around it, my kind husband has been stepping over it, and my 5 children just run over the top of it. What’s with that anyway? I know it wouldn’t look as cute as the pink Energizer bunny marching around and around and never stopping, but, seriously, my laundry pile WILL EXIST into Infinity and Beyond!!!

Which brings me to another pile that seems to keep growing: the un-matched sock pile. Every few months, I throw away a gallon-bucket-sized pile of socks that have no mates. Only to turn around and find the “Un-matched” pile has appeared again, daring me to believe the other sock will turn up as I do the laundry.

No matter where I go, what I do, or how much I check items off my to-do list, the laundry never goes away. It patiently sits there, awaiting my next energy spurt.

But, for all my complaining, I’m still having the time of my life. (With a little less sleep than originally hoped…)

Nothing replaces our excitement to visit with our families. Nothing compares to seeing people weep as we share about loving the Ngobe Indians in Panama. Nothing erases the effects of hearing our loved ones pray for us and encourage us.

Not even the laundry pile can steal the simple joys of enjoying the fickle Missouri weather, talking with friends, and laughing with family.

We are blessed. We are loved. And whether I can see it or not, we are advancing the Kingdom,

…..one dirty sock at a time.

Kathryn Laundry

CLEAN Laundry!  (Special thanks to Matt Nickel for the Photo Bomb.)