Love is not proud. Love does not boast. Love after all, matters the most. Love will protect. Love always hopes. Love still believes when you don’t. Love is the arms that are holding you. Love never fails you. (from Brandon Heath’s song “Love Never Fails”)
A few years back, I told my pastor that I wanted to get involved in my new parish. I know, I’m a glutton for punishment, right? It’s a place full of faith. There are a lot of people who kneel in front of Jesus there like they know in whose presence they are currently located. It’s impressive as heck. Also, this crazy parish is the home to an insanely large number of parishioners…close to 15,000? That fact makes plugging in intimidating to a newcomer with a spiritual inferiority complex, and I needed an assist. Fr. Richard said, “Gospel of Life. I think that group will be a good fit for you.” My participation in that little group has been a boon to my faith because of the friendships I’ve made with folks who love the Lord, but also because the committee often is responsible for bringing in speakers who talk to the parish about all sorts of things related to the sanctity of human life. One such recent speaker was a Texas author, Kathryn Whitaker. She shared a meaningful message about loving in all circumstances– a lesson she learned from the stressful premature birth of her fifth child– a little boy named Luke.
After her talk at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, I bought her book and had her sign it. She wrote, “May you always live a HELL YES kind of life.” It’s an inscription I’m sure she’s signed many times by now, but as I read it for the first time a couple weeks later, I had a strong reaction. I thought “Hmm. That sounds scary?” I decided I would read her book to see if I could uncover exactly what she meant, and today I did just that. I thought back about my interactions with Kathryn and measured her a skosh. I mean, if you’re reading this silly blog and have been paying any attention at all, you’ve probably figured out by now that I am an observer of people. I’ll even humbly submit that it’s an area of giftedness for me. Every one of us has strengths that others can learn from, and usually, I can spot them in short order.
So, back to the beautiful spitfire from the Lone Star state. You see, I had been very involved in the behind the scenes organizing of this particular parish event so I had spoken to Kathryn on the phone and by email. I had observed her during set up and we met briefly. My pastor, a man who measures his out his words of affirmation in a very conservative fashion had sung her praises for months. An attractive, sassy and articulate lover of Jesus, this gal speaks at a break-neck pace with her sweet southern drawl. She’s got a lot to say and had little time to get it done. She is not a speaker who circles the drain. Energy and passion ooze from her as she succintly makes her point! When her microphone didn’t work, I laughed interiorly. Of course her mic didn’t work even though it had been tested. Ditto the back up lavaliere. AND NOW SHE HAD MY FULL ATTENTION. You see, Satan CLEARLY didn’t want us to hear from her, and so I was all ears! I learned after the event that a frequency problem we had never previously experienced was the root cause of the mic issues, by the way. It’s almost comedy to me. If I were her, I’d consider it the most lovely compliment. Satan was bugged by her, you guys. How awesome is that?
Kathryn kept going. She’s a force of nature. What makes Kathryn spectacular is that she is in the business of using the blessings of her life as well as her unique, saucy brand of giftedness to glorify the Lord. She writes and speaks about how our good and gracious God is in the miracle business every single day. She urges people to push through the panic and discomfort of the cross and let God love us. Explained through the lens of her big family and the challenges that have come her way over the years, it’s spoken in compelling fashion. We should take what we’ve learned from our own lives as well as those inspired by the folks around us and spend what remains of our lives fearlessly loving BIGGER. Great message, right?
Folks. I stink at moderation. I’m not good at eating, praying, or loving moderately. So, when this faith-filled, very authentic woman of integrity closed her book “Live Big, Love Bigger” with the following paragraph, I’ve got to tell you…I thought back to my initial reaction to her inscription in my copy of her book.
“This life was meant for living, so I encourage you to set fear aside and love bigger. Can I get a HELL YES? Let’s say it a little louder for the folks in the back, shall we?”
HELL YES, Kathryn. HELL TO THE YES!
Folks, get her book. It’s accessible and full of the wittiness and faith of it’s author. Also, listen to that Brandon Heath song I quoted from at the beginning of this post. It’s a favorite of this very impressive wife, mom and author for a reason. Thanks for sharing what you know and pointing me to Jesus, Kathryn. I kind of feel like I should order you a case of Dr. Pepper on Amazon Prime or something and have it shipped to Texas to properly express my gratitude. You are big scoop of awesome sauce!
St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, PRAY FOR US!