Update on Life Part 1

Hello Fellow Humans,

It’s been awhile to say the least.

I spent the week in Panama City, FL soaking up the sun and diving into the Word with some of my favorite people (pictured below).

Literally, I don’t know any other club that can spend 2 1/2 hours sitting in a circle with nothing but encouragement and thankfulness for each other and all the glory to God. The main theme of this year’s conference was justification through Grace by Faith alone. Reverend James Forsyth of McLean Presbyterian Church preached during Large Group every night. I chose to attend “Renewed: Finding Identity and Faithfulness in Christ” as my four day seminar along with “The Self, The Brain, and God” and “FOMO: How the Kingdom of God Heals the Constant Fear of Missing Out” for my two day seminars. Each directly connected to many of the points that James had made.

The major theme for this year was Justification by Grace through Faith alone.

Let’s break that down a bit.

Rev. James defined Justification as the legal declaration that (we) are right with Our Heavenly Father. Justified can be taken as Just{as}ifi{obey}ed.

Think about it this way:

Every single one of us has an unpaid receipt of everything we’ve ever thought, said, and done. And let’s face it–even the best deed we’ve managed in this life is ridden with crimson ink because nothing we humans accomplish has entirely selfless motives. We stand before a most just judge guilty; as if we’ve dined and ditched at the finest Olive Garden and it’s finally caught up to us.

And try as one might to cast the dead tree that you’ve wracked up into the Washing Machine–it simply doesn’t work. All of the stain-fighting power of Tide does not change the our indebted stance.

But….

Jesus closes the check.

And we are free to not only dine in the premiere restaurant forever but we are allowed to walk free from a lifetime of washing dishes and wiping tables but also equipped to step out into the world and the calling that the Father intends for us. And though that means settling for the McDonald’s and peanut butter sandwiches along the way, we are promised sustenance all of our days.

And that is a most beautiful thing.

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

What We’re Here For: Reflections on Being Differently Abled

If you asked me what my favorite attribute of God is, it would be a tossup between His infinite power to do Good {even through the most grievous circumstances} and His intentionality when it comes to crafting the narratives of our lives. It has been a great comfort to know that not breath is expelled from lungs nor a hair falls from my head without His Seal of Approval. The Lord personally brings about an abundance or dearth in our lives. The Bible promises that every good gift we are given is from above (James 1:17 NIV). And when we ask for bread, He will never give us stones (Luke 11:11 NIV). Romans 8:28-29 reminds us that all things work together for our good to conform us to the image of Christ. This past week was the last large group of the semester for RUF @ Penn State, and one of the last verses of Genesis echoes that sentiment. As the campus minister pointed out, both the brothers and the Lord meant for what happened in Joseph’s life to occur. The world of difference was in the motives behind the plans.

If we are going to take Our Heavenly Father at His Unfailing Word, dear readers, we must receive it in its entirety. Every blessing is personally delivered from the Hand of the Lord. And yet, we must also remember that this same God makes the following promise.

Photo Cred: Etsy.com

And what is this new something that He is speaking of? Ultimately, it is the stainless garment of our eternal body which 2 Corinthians 5 speaks of. Paul describes our earthly bodies as tents in comparison to a Heavenly house yet to come. They are functional and provide shelter, but cannot weather the harshest of storms. This is not to say that these temporal dwellings are not without use. Suffering in our flesh and bone has a divine, tangible function in the present:

1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faithb into this grace in which we stand, and wec rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5 (ESV).

In my life, I have often been prayed over for healing of my heart. I understand that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ mean well when they minister to me in this way. And I am also aware of the medical phenomenon that thriving almost twenty-two years sans the most essential body part is bound to be {seriously, research has been published about li’l ol’ me}. With that being said, we must remember that some semblance of order remains in the fractured world we take up residence of. I am no salamander, and my left leg cannot magically grow back with all the petition in the universe. To be perfectly frank, that would be rather terrifying. I also accept the mysterious reality that I don’t need a pulmonary valve at the moment–even though that has led to some rather disappointing side effects as I’ve approached young adulthood.

But more on that later….

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

From Riches to Rags: A Lengthy Reflection on the Story of Joseph

Hello Fellow Humans:

The Reformed University Fellowship @PennState has been studying the Book of Genesis throughout the Spring semester. And this past week, we came to the story of Joseph and the presence of the Lord in trials and temptations. Joseph was a Child of the Covenant unlike his siblings because he was born to Jacob’s first wife, Rachel. Because of this, he was the beloved son. His father made him a robe as a sign of his affections towards the young lad. He then sent him from the comfort of their home into the fields to work alongside his older brothers. Although each bore Israel’s likeness and were cut from the same cloth so to speak, they all knew that he was the favored one in their midst. To fuel their jealousy further, Joseph in his naivety shared that His Heavenly Father had granted him a vision that he would reign over them.

So, they devised a plan. His own People gave him over to their adversaries the Ishmaelites. Jacob’s eldest son, Reuben wanted to be the hero of the story. He would surely rescue him when the time was right and restore him to their father. In throwing him into the pit, he did not intend to destroy him–only to obtain that which he did not possess. Little did he know that Judah sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites so as “let not their hand be upon him” (Genesis 37:26 ESV). And by the time Reuben realized this, it was too late. Not even his most righteous brother could save Joseph. It would have to be an act of God.

Sounds a lot like Jesus and the Jews, if you ask me….

The world may never know the depths of Reuben’s intentions when he plotted to spare his youngest sibling a most grievous end. One thing is clear: He wanted to obtain his father’s utmost blessing and gratitude. And perhaps he figured that he would win over Joseph as well and secure a high position in the royal court if the prophecy came true. Whatever the case, Reuben’s motives were not entirely pure and he sought self gratification above all. He coveted what he saw as rightfully his, even after he sinned against his father by giving himself over to his appetites and laying with his Israel’s mistress (Genesis 49:3) .

The story of Joseph shows us that goodwill is not always God’s Will and no amount of piety can be counted to us as righteousness or make up for our shortcomings in the sight of men or the Lord. The remnant of Israel is saved by Grace through faith alone, but that does not mean sin is without consequence. Scripture promises that God honors those who honor Him in 1 Samuel 2.

Both Reuben and Joseph were given much to oversee whilst their masters were away. Joseph acknowledged that to lie with Potiphar’s wife would bring about judgement from the Lord and be a disgrace to the household. In resisting temptation, Joseph demonstrated wisdom, faithfulness, and humility. Reuben, on the other hand, was entitled and felt that he had lordship over all in his care.

Many commentaries paint Joseph as Good and Reuben in an antagonist light. I think it is important to note, however, that both exhibited utter humanity and repentance as the story unfolded. When God first reveals His Plan for Joseph, he is an arrogant young man who revels in the idea of his peers bowing down to him. That was his glaring pitfall {no pun intended}. By the time that Potiphar’s wife confronted him, he recognized that his success from the Lord and the importance of good stewardship. And in the end, all of the brothers confessed their sin against their youngest brother and God. Joseph gently reminded him that he was merely a leader of servants of the Lord, forgave them, and promised to care for them and their families (Genesis 50:19-21). The moral of this story is to use the abundance we’ve been given to lead others to Jesus.

Note: Shout-out to @SusieJacobs for her honest feedback on this post. And my apologies, dear readers, for any misconceptions/ confusions caused by my polished draft.

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

What I Learned in Burrito School Is..: Lessons from Week Numero Uno on the Fast-paced Food Line

Hello Fellow Humans:

First things first.

My apologies for not posting yesterday. I took off as a Day of Rest {more on that in a later post}. If you’re anything like me–it’s been a long an productive week fo’ sho. But hey, we survived to Fri{y}ay ‘all!

And now, it’s time to enjoy the weekend and quite possibly my best work yet #humblebrag #GodisGood #Thankfulforthegiftofgifs :D!

Although Kel Mitchell was one of my chief influences as a kid and inspired a looove Orange Soda in me, I couldn’t bring myself to experience the joys of the restaurant biz.

 

☀ Until this past Tuesday ☀

That’s right, dear readers. The former teacher to Three-nagers has become a student {in some cases} of teenagers. And I am pleased to report that I couldn’t be more abundantly #Blessed….assuming that that’s still socially acceptable. Mind you–I’m partying like it’s 1999 over Nickelodeon’s “All That” airing for the first time twenty-four years ago on 4/16/18 :).

Anyways, back to business…

Here are my findings from my first day of life serving the general public.

1. Authenticity and efficiency is key.

2.The crowd is diverse.

3.All with the same expectations to be fulfilled/chow to be partaken of.

4.Some are more gracious than others.

5.And although each guest demands your best behavior (sometimes literally)…..

6.The only absolute protocol is good form, which can be expressed in a variety of ways.

7.Messes are bound to happen….

8. Sometimes accidentally on purpose.

And for the record, I’m talking about when you’re in a rush and haven’t mastered scooping chips yet and some unavoidably hit the floor. No one wants to be self-proclaiming Bean Nose Boy. Or any personal affiliation to beans for that matter…

9.But perfect is not synonymous with good, and to err is dude,man.

10.And whilst all your hard work and dedication will provide dividends beyond what you anticipated, one stranger’s two cents means a job well done at the end of the day.

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

All gifs credit to GIPHY.

Photo cred: 2damnfunny.com (Pardon the French s’il vous plait et merci. I cannot censor the title of the website :/ ).

Rescue in the Wreckage

Hello Fellow Humans:

Imagine you are on an airplane to heading to Panama City for Big Break. You take your seat in front of the child who finds it amusing to kick the back of your chair…No matter how many times she is told to stop. At first, she may be gently reproved in an attempt to correct the issue. As her unacceptable behavior continues, however, her guardians will likely become frustrated. Their patience may {quite understandably} wear thin. Perhaps their polite corrections will fall on deaf ears and they’ll choose to preserve their voice. Before that happens, however, the mother may begin to harshly (and loudly) reprimand her daughter. For the rest of the passengers, this may disturb the peace that they felt. They might doubt that her mom loves her if she speaks with too jarring of a tone.

And yet, the well-loved child knows does not doubt the affection of her parents. Instead, she ceases her erroneous ways, apologizes you, and begins to sing “Let it Go” as a means of distracting herself from what seems like eternity. She doesn’t mind, however, because the Happiest Place on Earth awaits her in the Sunshine State. Others may find this to be much worse. Despite perhaps intentionally exasperating her parents and unintentionally keeping you from focusing on the book that is required reading as you journey towards your destination, she was not personally hindering their comfort. And now they have to hear her incessant warbling the whole way there…

But if you are anything like me–It is the sweet sound of music to your ears

And Beauty in Breaking Up

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29 NIV).

Working with young children has taught me to see the innocence in ignorance. Although seasons change and friends move on, I don’t forget to pray that God would complete the Good Work I witnessed in their lives. I try to remove anything that causes others to stumble. I don’t mind stepping down or to the side in order to allow for what’s in the best interest of those I love. And in their proper place, those gifts flourish. In the context of romantic relationships, however, I confess that it puts men in a godlike position which is treacherous for both parties.

I prayed for years that God would give me a King that would know and love me in all of my depths….Someone who would call me in kindness to repentance and not remember every single time that I hurt him for decades to come. That He would provide someone who could be the friend, lover, father, counselor, teacher, and preacher that I longed to walk beside me all my days.

And He answered me with Himself.

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

Coming Soon:

If He Wills….I Do, and If I Don’t…He Still Wills…. (4/23/18)

P.S. In Celebration of Jamie Grace Collins’ wedding (and because I reference two of her characters and need to give credit where credit is due), enjoy the Jamie Grace Show!

What’s in a Name? A Lengthy Response

Hello Fellow Humans:

As a high school freshman, I knew Shakespeare as that old dude who penned the most romantic love story ever written; the statue in Gnomeo and Juliet that nearly leaves the film unresolved with one absent-minded flick of his quill, and he who has maintained his dignity for 450 years in spite of his tights.

It wasn’t until I actually read Romeo and Juliet that I began to question my entire perception of The Bard.

Shakespeare certainly made a name for himself. And it cannot be denied that he was gifted in his understanding of the English language. In fact, he can be credited for the invention of over a thousand words that are now a part of everyday speech.With that being said, we cannot forget that this same man essentially broadcasted dirty jokes to the masses for centuries and rushed down the aisle with the other Ann Hathaway because the couple’s eldest daughter Susanna was involved and born two days shy of six months after the wedding. This is not to say that the bad takes away from the good, or vice versa.

EXPECTATION:

BestWordsgif

VS REALITY:

shakespeare GIF

And as a person created equal to Will, I would like to share my personal perspective and provide an answer to the timely question Miss Capulet poses rhetorically:

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

I can appreciate the sentiment that a Rose is clearly seen as a Rose no matter what we call it–just as human is a human regardless of lineage. Yet a Rose has specific characteristics which resonate with us and speak to its function. It can be used as a token of affection, scarlet as one’s heart. It is a delicate, pliable flower regardless of the thorny, stiff stem that it cannot be cut off from in order to thrive.

The Bible says that “{God} determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalm 147:4 NIV). In Luke 12:7, Jesus reminds his disciples that they are more precious than sparrows and the Lord has numbered every hair on our heads. I can say with confidence, then, that God cares about every single detail of each of our lives.

Catherine Elizabeth Sukala {Suckala? Suckoola? Sookala.} has more significance than meets the English ear. Catherine means Purity. Elizabeth means Oath of God. And Sukala is a Polish surname that is derived from “Szukala” which means “She was searching.” Putting it all together, I was searching, and God chose me “in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.” (Ephesians 1:4). He made me Pure, and vowed to start a work in me that He will bring to fruition. And yes, I can say that for both myself and my fellow humans. But I would not want to be called anything else.

Before I finish getting ready for @OakwoodPCA’s 11:15 service, what are y’all up to today? Feel free to comment below :). #LatecontemporaryServicefortheCollegeKids #MyPeeps #Sleepinginforthewin #dayofrest #reflectingonTheWord

💕Catie Wren S{z}ukala 🐱✝🐦

{All gif credits to GIPHY}.