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.
I meant to write on this topic yesterday, but perhaps a morning greeting will prove a blessing to someone in particular. To those who grieve on Christmas, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, or found yourself in an harsh circumstance today, perhaps disappointed, living with a loss of some kind, I want to say, "Hello" just to you this morning! This greeting is for and about you.
It can be easy to feel like you are crawling along on the outskirts of this day, pressed outside the worldwide joy parade by a sorrowful circumstance. You are watching it happen, trying hard not to be sad while the world sings, "Glory!" It can feel like the festivities are more like arrows to your heart than gifts, the sounds and visuals of the day a blaring reminder of what you are living without. In particular, if it is your first Christmas without a loved one, it is likely no less than a hike up Mount Everest to make it through this day emotionally. Even now, for me, years later, I still miss those who beat me Home. Christmas holds amplified emptiness when those we love are not with us in it.
I have a word for you. Hear me, beloved! You are not on the outskirts of this day. Do you know what everyone is gathered around? They are celebrating the coming of King Jesus, who is a man who was familiar with sorrow and well-acquainted with grief. I believe, although it is rarely acknowledged, that every single twinkling light is a sign that there is hope for those who are brokenhearted. This man Jesus came, and courageously pursued those who were most hurting. He is still doing that very thing today, on Christmas. His eyes and heart are towards you. You are not alone. You are not outside of what "Christmas" is about. You are actually the reason for this season.
YOU are the reason He came.
You grumpy grieving sorrowful beautiful person.
Perhaps feeling very much alone.
"He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Today is a holiday about Jesus, and Jesus sees you in your grief and loves you more deeply than anyone ever could. He is near to you, nearer than breath. It is possible to be comforted today and benefit deeply from the good news that sits at the core of this holiday. Jesus came, and is still coming, to save, rescue, and redeem those who are hurting. I declare to you – beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for despair. Isaiah 61:1-3 belongs to you! Unwrap it. It’s all yours. You are at the center of what this day is about.
My love to the grieving today!
Love, Katie Luse.
This past weekend I released kites. The kites are people; people holding kites. People who will carry The Gospel Story through Theater Art to hundreds, thousands, over the next few months with their kites in hand. The soundtrack rumbles beneath them, the voice overs anchor their story down, their bodies on stage breath with fiery passion that they uncovered in a holy experience we call “Jesus Theater Rehearsals.” Testimony Art has been born again. Salvation calls will be made to thousands. Thousands will come Home.
For the last six months, I have carried this piece inside my own heart – sculpting, nurturing, and teaching it. The end production is a fluid result of glorious and tedious creative work, hammered out both in solitude and collaborate spaces. As the writer, the experience is a creative birthing. As with previous years, this piece went from seed to embryo, newborn to infant, and now finds its feet inside of grown adults who adopt it as their own. I love the creative process; deeply challenging, deeply personal.
The imagery used in this piece wears the marks of my own story, my own need, my own wrestling and pressing forward for redemption. Every year as I write the Jesus Theater, I am faced again with the power of the simple Gospel. As a result, I change. Any meditation on Jesus Christ breeds transformation. I am grateful for this project that presses me annually into a meditation on the heart of our faith. This year in particular, the writing process held me like a walking stick through fiercely challenging winter months - darkness, depression, loss – and a kite fighting to be free.
The kite dares to take flight.
It is trapped by a trash bag.
It becomes enslaved.
Self-liberating efforts produce more pain.
Suffering awakens; hard, long, thorough.
There an empty tomb.
The story is not over.
The kite is offered the sky again.
There is a choice.
Jesus, or not.
And is that not all of our choice, every day? Jesus, or not.
This latest cast was the third that I worked with on this piece over the last few months. Each workshop represented a different region in the nation. Each group hosted a team of directors who will teach the piece in their own setting. Each person had their own story, and courageously entered into this one with fierce authenticity. We met God. Every time. We shared communion. Every time. Art communion. Jesus Theater.
… And every time I grieved when we finished, this time the most. Giving away what I love is a trigger of love and loss for me, all too familiar in my own narrative. Full to empty, again. I fell in love with each group of people, their wet eyes daring to face themselves in the mirror of the Gospel. Their screams, authentic. Their dance, invigorating. Their vulnerability, striking. Their spirits, ignited. I got to spend days at a time with brilliant artists, watching them catch a fire inside and take up a new torch as an artistic minister. The days afterwards, I always miss them. The art itself shared half the year with me, became a companion, holds secrets of my story, validates my pain and beauty, loves me without words, trumpets that my redemption will come. The liberated kites extend hope to me, over and over again.
It’s hard to let the piece go. But I did. Because I must. Broken bread. Outpoured wine. Break it, and give it away. Therein, multiplication. The Wind should get to determine how far these kites go, not me. I cut the strings and let the last group take flight a few short days ago. The curtain closes on a six month project.
Presenting, Jesus Theater – Kites.
No longer mine.
As for me, perhaps my own kite of a life will find the sky again. You and I both, we could get up and try again. After all, kites are made for the sky. “The breath of the King became the wind in their sails and they flew!”
It's time to take flight!
p.s. I am calling Ministers who are Artists to remember the power and importance of your call. Please, help the evangelical world learn to preach through more than monologues.
The wind moves the water. The water does not move the wind. The wind moves the leafs. The leafs do not move the wind. The wind moves the grass. The grass does not move the wind. The wind moves my hair. My hair does not move the wind. The wind has authority. It initiatives movement. It is a powerful source, and yet is familiar with softness, invisibility, gentleness, subtleness, and freedom. Herein lie lessons on leadership from gentle wind:
Wind is not always gentle, but today it is. This gentle wind holds secrets on the use of authority.
Behold; the power of gentle leadership.
I am on the trail again. Chief among the wonders I found here is a woman parked at the same picnic table every morning. The table is pressed to the water’s edge with two trees towering on either side it. The trees hold the promise of autumn; leaking color into their tips before the great fall begins. This woman sits, every day, at the water’s edge. Her hair is short and styled loosely, her clothing comfortable, her gaze consumed. Ink pressed to paper, her focus hangs low on the page beneath her eyes. She writes.
A few days ago, her corner of the park was populated with noise. A club of Moms, strollers, and infants gathered around an enthusiastic stout coach. They hung their bodies upside down on purpose, and fluttered around their screaming children. Ink pressed to paper, the woman’s focus hung low on the page beneath her eyes. She continued to write.
Yesterday, it was scorching hot. The sun beat down and told every living thing to find shade or go indoors. I passed the woman’s table on the trail and found her there with a sun hut on her head. It’s long yellow wings hung down around her determined face. Ink pressed to paper, her focus hung low on the page beneath her eyes. She sweat, and she continued to write.
Today it is raining. She has a bright red umbrella tied to the table. It is secured and “hands free.” Raindrops collapse around her, but her square foot of the world stays dry. The leafs overhead dump pools of water; she seems to be writing faster. Ink pressed to paper, her focus hangs low on the page beneath her eyes. She continues to write.
On the banks of a river trail, I found a writer. I don’t know what she writes, but it is not what she writes that makes her a writer, but rather her dedication to the art form. She does not have to look up to teach me. The power of her focus radiates from the back of her head.
Dedication to anything looks like something. It looks like sticking yourself like glue to that thing and doing it, every single day. Dedication is the vacuum that pulls our passions out of mid air and into a committed existence with us. What wild thing in your heart is waiting for dedication? What if you dedicated some time to it, starting today?
Ink pressed to paper, my focus hands low on the page beneath my eyes. I write.
Thrown into the hot hands of grief,
The waking nightmare of terror,
The sudden racing of survival,
The demand for life-altering courage,
The right to scream, scream hard,
In One life.
The deficit in the home,
The deafening silence,
The shattered family unit,
The injustice of a forced change,
The cycle of chaotic robbery,
In One life.
This still matters. It matters most to those who have been forced to navigate life differently ever since. For those touched by 9/11, I honor you today. Your voice, your loss, and your life are important. Your story is a cradle for history that is paramount in our time. May trauma flee the scene of your ongoing courage today, and may you find a healing grace in remembrance.
The impact of 9/11 remains,
In many lives.
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.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.