Announcing Baby Girl Luse! Due 6.25.20! This is the most beautiful photo to me in the world. This ultrasound bolstered my happiness beyond what my heart has known in years. I can't stop smiling! Behold, a miracle child! I am considering the potential, the reality, of redemption.
2019 – Reflection
At the beginning of this year, God called me to start preaching a message on “Courage.” It was a topic brewing for some time but I knew the timing of its release was held in this year. I did not know how much I would need the topic to the navigate the year it found its voice.
The first few days of 2019 were spent speaking at a Global Awakening conference while attempting to hide my bulging belly behind baggy clothes. The Presence of God was strong among us, many people touched and healed. Mitch and I received a prophetic word from Paul Keith that we were entering into a new volume of our lives and that the seven years of suffering was ending.
Less than two days later, I began to bleed, which was the beginning of another great tragedy in our lives. Eliad Leo Luse died, our son. His heart stopped beating at 10 weeks in utero. We learned about it unexpectedly at a standard pre-natal appointment. He would’ve been twelve weeks, his size measured ten, and his heart revealed a flat line. That flat line …
Within hours of this news my body manifested its reality. The next few weeks were sunk in physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. Two induced labors, and eventually a surgery, followed by months of recovery from unexplained extended blood loss.
We lost another child to death.
Our second child is in heaven now too.
Too bad to be true.
Too painful to embrace.
To real to escape.
Eliad Leo Luse. Our 2nd child.
This was our first pregnancy since Ruby Joy, conceived in 2012, who went Home at 2 years 8 months old from a disease. We could not have imagined another loss, and yet we found ourselves in one, grieving again. Unbelievable. What about that new volume on life?
The loss of Eliad’s life was a piercing to the budding hope that had taken us years to discover. It was a piercing to our hope for family in our mid-thirties, piercing to our belief that our position of loss could change. It was a piercing to my spirit.
My heart broke.
My will also broke.
Somehow in this terrible loss, I found myself in the deepest surrender to God I have ever known. “This life is not about me, God. My life is for and about You. Take and use me, God. I am tired of parading my own desires. Have all there is of Katie Luse.”
And, ministry suddenly exploded.
Stage after stage after stage – I stood and preached.
Well … at times I sat in a chair and preached, for I could not stand.
Holy Spirit rushed into the room at the sound of my voice.
People were saved, healed and delivered.
Doors flung open.
Mitch quit his job.
We dove into ministry together.
Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. I started living this in a way I had never known it before. Absolutely terrifying, absolutely liberating, absolutely the heart of the Gospel. Die to live. Give to gain. Sow to reap. For what value is our commitment to Jesus if we are not in practice all His?
At last, I was truly all His. Alive for One.
I fought hard to be courageous and continue serving God with a broken spirit.
And, I discovered in the midst of it that public favor, I was unwell.
So, I sought help.
Tried counseling, it failed.
Tried processing, it failed.
Tried writing, it failed.
Tried pressing on, it failed.
Tried ConnectUp, and it worked.
I began to heal. And once again, healing was a choice, hard work, and a bad ass process. As I healed I found myself in the most liberated state of being, holding nothing but Jesus and racing forward into the call of God. During the surgery when Eliad was removed lifeless, I had a vision of God implanting the world into my womb. I began to embrace, “The world for God” as my trumpet call from that experience.
June rolled around and I felt unleashed from constant grief, my heart now healing, fortitude emerging. I felt gratified with my ministry family, mothering the people who are making their home with us, fortified in my call to Mother for God.
Courage to heal.
Courage to preach while hurting.
Courage to get help when I needed it.
Courage to face personal opposition in ministry, oh the tails!
Courage to build a new leadership infrastructure for ConnectUp.
Courage to let go of ownership of the Jesus Theater.
Courage to dare to get pregnant again.
August dawned and I found myself, for the first time in my life, with the desire for a baby. “I want a baby.” Many would assume it was my position for the last decade given our story, but honestly not so. Not my childhood dream, not my pre-emptive decision before Ruby Joy, not my desire or aspiration in life – Mitch’s – yes – but not mine.
I wanted a baby.
A baby came.
I learned the baby was with me, cognitively.
And then the pregnancy moved in like a bomb that has yet to stop exploding. I was not suffering from June-September, a rare find in this short life, a free run. My norm has been private suffering and public glory for a long time. I had a break from that, my private held joys of its own, my wounds no longer raw. Too brief.
Suddenly, nausea and vomiting every day, the experience of which made it impossible for me to celebrate what was happening or think clearly. Literal misery, every single day. A loss of self, a loss of momentum, a loss of clarity, a loss of my trail.
I am only now emerging from that roller coaster of a life, the first-trimester dungeon. Barely walking, uncertain of my internal reality, unclear as to who I am and what is happening. All I know is that I spent the last three months vomiting.
And now, it’s 2020.
Courage, dear heart.
It’s now 2020.
Underneath the role.
Underneath the productivity.
Underneath the appearances.
Underneath the expectations.
Underneath the successes.
Underneath the failures.
Underneath the hard-earned favor.
Underneath the grace-infused space.
Underneath the ability to smooth it over.
Underneath the inability to fix a thing.
Underneath my feet.
Underneath my skin.
Underneath my broken heart.
What is underneath?
Inside of me? Inside of you? Honestly?
That is where God wants to meet with us, raw as it is. This is the essence of Immanuel; God with us. Not God stopped still at the outer layer, but God piercing into the inner layer, the inmost layer, our inmost being.
The core me. The core you. The core of us...
.. is the only authentic meeting place with God.
I took the month of July off from public ministry. The first two weeks were terrible, an unravelling of myself to a hard-knock discovery of how I was really doing. The last two weeks were wonderful, a restoration of who I am outside of roles and responsibilities.
I feel like I am getting my life back.
I want to spend my life for Jesus.
I cannot give what I do not have.
If my life is in the grip of another’s agenda, how am I to give it to Jesus?
How is it that we think we can give our lives wholly to Jesus when we have already given them away to jobs, churches, ministries and other people? What would it look like to really give our lives to Jesus?
Perhaps no contradiction.
Perhaps all the contradiction in the world.
Everyday this past month I pursued exercise, time with God, and finding a way to serve my husband. These three pillars were protected despite a whirlwind of an internal process that was noisy, nasty and frankly embarrassing. Honest, nonetheless.
It is easy to lose sight of our identity when we allow our roles, jobs, responsibilities or lack of significant roles to define who we are. If all of that disappeared today, would you still know yourself?
Tomorrow is August 1. I feel alive, ready for the upswing of this next season. I can see it coming. Fast. Friend, consider setting aside time to re-discover your priorities. The honest condition of your soul matters to God. I recommend a focused number of days to:
Take care of yourself. You matter.
"They intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are." Aldous Huxley
Nine weeks since I left my full-time job. I have little to show for it except for the symptoms of a detox; a detox I hope not to repeat. I am left feeling bewildered; how in this racing world do we resist the intoxication of work? Our identity is strapped to production as if our life depended on it. Who strapped it? Who knows how to unstrap it?
Putting the breaks on in life is hard work, a discipline. As long as our foot is no where near the breaks we don't have time to acquaint with the destruction of our competitive speeding lives.
Until ... we do.
Until we are forced to ...
And then ... we either run harder, run away, or crash.
There must be a better way.
I think the better way has something to do with self-control. When that is present, strong, alive in our lives, these things do not so easily happen. Self-control. Prove it is present through taking a break. Prove it.
My friend brought me to an apple orchard. I picked a lot of apples. I picked way too many apples. I picked so many apples that my plastic bags sagged as I fought to put them on the counter. Check out.
For two weeks my apples sat. They sat because I could not find time to sit with them. The following weekend came and I remembered them, returned to them, pulled those sagging bags of apples out because I knew ... some things are now or never.
I peeled so many apples my hands hurt. I put half of them in the crockpot overnight to make applesauce and the next morning they were burned. I put the other half in a pie shell with brown sugar and those came out perfect. How is it that sugar perfects things? Certain things.
Two bags of apples left.
Mitch and I walked the neighborhood and knocked on people's doors to offer them apples. We ended up at the table of an elderly couple that lives around the corner. They talked for a long time. They talked about appropriate things and inappropriate things; things we wanted to lean into, things we wished we could lean out of. They unloaded their stories as if our knock on their door pulled a long-standing gag out of their mouths.
In time we stood in the kitchen of our new friends and caught the tears of hearts unlocked. The right visit with the right words at the right time. They took our apples.
Where apples may lead.
I like when the paved road becomes a dirt road. I like it even more when the dirt road becomes a trail. My favorite is when the trail becomes a slim clearing and then … that slim clearing disappears.
… which to some is the end of the road...
BUT … to others it is just the beginning.
I like exposed ground beneath my feet; moist dirt, bumpy pebbles, protruding roots. I like the raw, untethered land, unbroken ground, unhappening potential.
Find me on the less-beaten trail.
Find me off the trail.
Find me creating my own trail -
and there walking - long.
Getting lost on purpose is under-rated.
After all, who wants to only ever go where others have gone before?
There is a time to follow -
and there is a time to stop following -
I remember sitting outdoors with my bible as a young girl. My family was on vacation and I found a spot near the water to spend time with God. My bible was open to the book of James. It began to rain; sprinkle, drop, downpour. I looked down at the pages of my bible and made a decision; I would let the rain fall and crinkle the pages. This way my bible would always wear the marks of this day and I could always remember the special time I was having with God.
Years later that bible got dumped into a washing machine and came out obliterated. I cried. I loved that bible.
Later in life I had a different encounter with the bible. It was one where people were criticizing my life and others through flipping through the pages of this ancient book and saying “it’s not biblical.” The pounding of a religious fist came down to crush personal experiences with God in the name of the bible. I began to lose my love for the bible, even as I was falling more in love with Jesus.
A few years ago, I had a personal disappointment with the bible that worsened my existing distance from it. I was in a time of great need and had marked my bible cover to cover with promises of hope for something specific to happen. That hope was drowned in a tragedy. In my view, the bible told me that something would happen, and the exact opposite happened. For months I couldn’t read my bible without being met by a fierce feeling of betrayal.
I sat with a trusted spiritual leader one afternoon and confessed, “I love Jesus, but I don’t like the bible.” I told her how I questioned the bible’s origin, its validity and its relevance. “Most of all,” I expressed, “I despise when it is used to enslave people in the name of a liberating God.” She stared back at me knowing that I was leading people in a biblical setting. “You may want to sort this out, Katie.” I knew that and I tried. But the hard feelings towards my soft leather bible remained.
Through all this, I can remember seeing people who had worn their bibles thin through intense use and I felt embarrassed by my own. I didn’t want to open my ten-year-old bible in front of people for fear they would see that it still looked brand new. I wished I loved my bible, but in all honesty - I didn’t.
Just over a year ago, I was sitting in a bible class and the teacher felt impressed to stop his lecture and do some ministry. He spoke to my class, “If anyone has used the Word of God to hurt you instead of liberate you, I want to apologize to you on their behalf. That's not what God gave the bible for.” The statement hurled into my spirit and I began to cry.
Okay. There it was.
The bible had hurt me.
… and people had hurt me with the bible.
How in the world do you heal from that?
Meet the Author.
The journey began. I decided to only read the bible in conjunction with a meeting with its’ Author. I’ve been falling in love with my bible – ever since.
This past week I read through most of the New Testament in a few days. My eyes were sore from reading for so many hours, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. The bible is unraveling to me as threads of gold; wisdom for life, art for application, story for inspiration. I can’t get enough of it.
Friends, my relationship to my bible is healing. It’s been a long time coming. I am finding it so strengthening. My life is different when I'm in the word. My nights are more peaceful, my days feel more aligned. Maybe someday I’ll have a worn out bible with marked up pages like some of the people I so admire.
In the meantime, I can at least say …
To those who have been hurt by the bible, bored by the bible, apathetic towards the bible, disappointed by the bible, and in all honesty – love Jesus but could care less about the bible …
I get it.
And … I can honestly say –
Your bible is worth picking up again.
It’s worth spending time in again.
It’s worth falling in love with – again.
The Word reveals the Author.
He is so worth knowing.
I was taking a walk recently and saw a boy standing in his driveway blowing bubbles. He had brown knickers on and a shaggy blue shirt. He looked to be about six years old. His hair was dark and his eyes intent. Bubbles.
My sidewalk steps neared his bubble terrain and I noticed a faint sound of speaking coming from his mouth. His sense of personal space, some imaginary drama, was apparent and I obliged to cross the street and walk on the other side.
It was a kind gesture on my part, but not entirely sincere. I was actually quite curious what he was experiencing and feared that my nearness would squash it. I slowed down and leaned into his mumblings as I passed by. To my surprise, I found that he was talking to each and every bubble until it popped, and then he would start again.
Blow the bubble.
Forge a connection.
Let the bubble pop.
Have I ever seen someone so successfully living in the present? I mean, why forge a connection with a bubble that is going to pop? And why not blow a thousand bubbles all at once?
Living in the present - on display.
I have been very busy the last few months. Racing, chasing, pushing, striving, diving, cartwheeling - to get stuff done. This season, however, I want to stop and take a lesson from the boy with the bubbles. I am challenging myself to be present; forge a connection with whatever, whomever, is in front of me.
This is a my season’s greeting: The boy with the bubbles invites you to step out of the raw current of stress and engage in the moments of your life.
Friends, let's not let "busy" rob our joy or validate our excuses for misery. Let's determine to enjoy ourselves - one fleeting bubble at a time!
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.