Delicious Autumn

“I feel as if we love each other better in autumn”, I said on the blanket under the tree. “Maybe it’s because we fell in love in autumn and the air takes us back to those first new moments.”

We didn’t admit it till the winter, but we fell in love in the fall. And in Memphis, TN the landscape echoed the autumn crisp in the air – here in Florida it’s still green and brown, green and brown, but the cool air still sweeps over the water from time to time and feels like the most welcomed gift.

It feels like a pause. A pause from the intense heat – a pause from real life, even. Cool mornings are treated differently, almost ceremoniously: windows open, coffee cups clasped, sweaters dug out of the bottom drawer. “It’s beautiful today, we must go sit outside.”

Our living room curtains dance from the open windows and the candle flame on the coffee table flickers wildly, both enchanting to watch. The autumn breeze sends a small shiver down my back and makes the gathered hair around my neck dance.

As I listen to the breeze rush through the palm trees (a sound so full it almost mimics rain) I think about what this air means. It’s the first signal of holidays. It means that in a month or so my family will be gathered around the backyard I grew up in, eating vegetable medley and turkey, watching the little cousins run around the yard and remarking how much bigger they are than the year before. I was once one of the kids running around, but now I’m amazed at how quickly they’re growing.

This air is a signal that soon I will bake my grandmother’s pumpkin pie with my mom. A grandmother I never met, this is a small way I feel connected to her. I don’t know if autumn was her favorite season, but her most beloved dessert was pumpkin pie so in autumn I think of her. In this air I almost smell it. My mother and I don’t need to look at the recipe anymore, it’s memorized by our hands and heart.

These mornings always stir my restless legs. “How can we live so far away from mountains and colors? I need this air in my lungs every October morning!” Every autumn I threaten to run away from the flat lands of Florida and retreat to Tennessee or North Carolina. And with Timothy next to me, I bet one of these years we will.

A full day of work is ahead of me: phone calls and calendars and meeting with volunteers till 8pm. But right now, as the air is coming through my living room window and the sun has just started to peek over the buildings, life is still and rich.

330 Days in Memphis, As Told By Instagram.

Memphis

Bike rides, patios, hiking, bbq, autumn leaves, spring flowers, new friends, new places. You guys, Memphis is a really cool city. Memphians love their city — they believe in it, they root for it, they invest in it. I have never lived somewhere where the people were so enthusiastic about their home. Memphis is one of the poorest cities in America, but I think it’s culture is one of the richest.

Sometimes it was really hard for me to be in Memphis, so far away from those Florida shores I know so well, but despite every moment I missed my family so terribly, I’m so glad that I got the chance to experience a city such as Memphis.

Ya’ll, I believe in Memphis too. And I’m so thankful to have laughed and ran and dreamed and definitely eaten in this city.

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Thanks for being such a graceful host, 901 ♡

What Everyone (Besides Floridians) Know About The Winter

Being from Florida, I have never lived anywhere where the weather, like.. changed. Florida is pretty constant: for at least 10 out of the 12 months figure you’re going to be in the 80’s, and it may dip to the 50’s around 2am on some mornings but don’t worry because by the afternoon you’re going to be sweating your eyebrows off and regretting your black long sleeved shirt. There are rare exceptions to this, but generally speaking Florida stays true to it’s hot and sweaty reputation.

I was sitting with my mother one day before moving up to Tennessee and I was googling “average monthly temperatures for memphis, TN”. I can specifically remember saying to her after I saw the first chart, “Oh this isn’t right. This chart must be using Celsius because it says highs in the 20’s.”

Florida cracker, y’all.

Here's me standing in a pittance of snow for the third time in my life and now knowing what to do with myself.
Here’s me standing in a pittance of snow for the third time in my life and not knowing what to do with myself.

SO HERE IS A LIST OF A FEW OF THE HARD TRUTHS EVERY FLORIDIAN MUST LEARN THE FIRST WINTER THEY ARE NO LONGER EMBRACED BY THE LOVING AND WARM ARMS OF THEIR HOME STATE:

(created with the help of a few other Florida born babes who have also recently embarked on a wintery wonderland adventure)

  • What the “defrost” button does. And why it is in fact called defrost and not defog.
  • What even in the world “sleet” is.
  • The iPhone weather app ACTUALLY has little snowflake pictures and not just bright suns and thunderstorms.
  • In that app, a picture of a thermometer with a little snowflake next to it means “below freezing temperature”. Which means below 32º. I know this only because I had to google it. I recall learning once in school what the freezing point was on the Fahrenheit scale was, BUT YEAH RIGHT LIKE I NEEDED TO REMEMBER THAT LIVING IN THE LAND OF T-SHIRTS AND SHORTS.
  • Work out pants don’t do jack squat in terms of keeping you warm. Seriously like, I am unable to even – you may as well wear nothing.
  • Gloves are useless for opening doors.
  • Gloves are useless for texting.
  • But wear gloves even though you can’t open anything or text because those ten little phalanges freeze the quickest.
  • Besides your nose, which will fall off  at any moment.
  • Being from Florida, ladies, you’re in the habit of shaving your legs weekly but you may as well throw your razors to the curb because your skin won’t see daylight for months.
  • “Wintry Mix” is literally a meteorological term used on forecasts. It sounds like a delicious winter themed style of chex-mix, but it actually means you’re going to be miserable.
  • “Ice Pellets” and “Hail” aren’t the same thing. Apparently.
  • All those cute little tissue paper scarves that you buy at Forever 21 don’t count for anything.
  • Northerns get their thrills by telling you that whatever temperature it is, it’s nothing compared to what they’re used to. There’s a lot of one-upping when it comes to cold. Just.. ignore them and put on your ear warmers.
  • That said, it actually is annoying to hear people in Florida talk about being cold. Turns out.. 50 degrees isn’t all that cold. So maybe no more whining.
  • Target, up here, sells something called an “ice scraper”. And people actually need them.
  • If you don’t have an ice scraper, CD cases also work for scratching sheets of ice off your windows as you sob because it’s so cold.
  • The reason cold mornings seem charming in Florida is because they happen like, five times. In places that aren’t Florida.. it’s months of cold. Months. It looses it’s charm quick.
  • Unless you live somewhere where people aren’t babies about snow, quadruple your expected travel time. No matter where you are going. You won’t be driving over 45 mph.
  • Driving on ice is literally the most terrifying thing in life. You’ll constantly be chanting “steer into the skid, steer into the skid..” just in case.
  • But the hardest lesson to learn is that snow, the beautiful mystical magical snow that every Floridian child dreams of,  is only pretty when it first falls and then as soon as it gets walked in it turns into nasty wet slippery dirty poop ice.

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No one tells Floridians about the poop ice. Actually, maybe they do. To be honest, when someone starts a sentence with “Well, snow isn’t THAT great…” we stop listening.

Maybe in This There Has Been But a Glimpse of the Kingdom

Since actually being in Tennessee the spiritual battle hasn’t gotten easier, but it has changed a lot. I find every day I frantically look through my Bible hoping to find a verse I had never noticed before that says something along the lines of, “and if thee would rather, travelest back to Tampa”. But what do you know, it’s not in there. You know whats in there a LOT though? Verses about dying to yourself, caring for your neighbors more than yourself, running the race, tending to your ministry, etc. Yeah. There are LOADS of verses about those things. I think especially of Philippians 2:3-4 because my Father has wisely led me to it several times recently ;

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

The biggest struggle has simply been the lack of community. And that’s okay because I know it does exist for me here, I just haven’t found it yet. I went to three different church services on Sunday because they happened to all be at different times and heck, I had the day off and literally nothing to do because, ahem, I have no friends up here yet. I admit that just being in a church makes me feel a small sense of home. Rubbing shoulders with believers, whether I know them or not, gives me peace and slight butterflies thinking how cool it is that people all over the world love the Lord and gather to sing and speak and reflect on it.

That being said, I didn’t much care for any of the churches. For no dramatic reason other than they weren’t my particular taste and that’s allowed. I’ve got quite the list of churches to try so my heart isn’t devastated and wallowing in abandonment just yet. I do spend most of my time talking to a 16 month old, and it’s true I am ITCHING to explore Memphis while getting to know new friends, but God is teaching me lots of lessons in the meantime.

Because I have some evenings and weekends to myself – and no one yet to spend that time with – I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors reading and biking and walking and picking up leaves to press in my Bible. The other day as I was meandering along a path, half listening to The National, I was thinking about glimpses of the kingdom. When I led Watermark’s woman’s study last semester this is something I feel like we talked about often. Those moments that show you a fraction of the joy that God has for us when we’re no longer in the earthly kingdom. In our women’s study, we’d be amazed at the lightness felt after sharing our pains and exclaim, “this is what we’re supposed to feel! all the time!”. I was thinking of this because I’ve had several of these glimpses recently. Here’s just three:

My last Sunday in Tampa: I’ll never be able to translate the moment adequately into words. I’m standing in the center aisle of a church that I have had tremendous growth in waiting to take communion. The wood floor that I’m walking on has felt fallen tears, the feet of running children, and dancing. The words on the screen ahead of me are of my favorite hymn: Come Thou Fount. A song that I have sung in joy, grief, confusion, and praise. The people singing on either side of the aisle are friends that have cried with me, pushed me, learned with me, sometimes offended me, and often forgiven me. The physical act of ripping the bread and dipping it into the juice is something I have done with Watermark every Sunday for the last three years before this, yet the spiritual and emotional weight of it is different every time. My head is going a million different directions (see previous post), but for those 30 seconds that I am standing in the center aisle, listening to my brothers and sisters sing one of the most lovely poems ever written, partaking in the holy act of communion in a church I adore… I feel nothing but peace.

My last night in Tampa: my last night in Tampa wasn’t in Tampa – technically it was in St. Pete. A friend [who I instinctively want to refer to as “new” but can’t because we’ve actually known each other some years] and I are deriving through ice cream shops and hotel lobbies and parks and pubs. We settle in for a cider or two and for the first time since maybe I was 9, play Battle Ship. I had been nothing but anxious leading up to my departure and yet suddenly, only hours before I had to wake up the next morning to drive off, I was carelessly laughing about nothing at all. I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t nervous – I was enjoying my friend. I was experiencing the lightness of community and that’s really lovely.

Today in Tennessee: I was holding the sweet little man I help care for in my arms so that we were face to face. He had been in a fussy mood all day and as a result, I was too. As he looks up to me I without thinking blow on his hair because it always makes him laugh. He giggled, put his chunky and innocent and adorable hands on my cheeks, touched his nose to mine, then gave me the wettest kiss the world has ever seen. I have been amazed at his cuteness many many times, but I swear my heart almost exploded in joy. It was almost too sweet for me to bare and all I could think about was this must be a sliver of how God feels about us. We are his children. He must feel the same (only divine) inexplicable joy when we reach to him with our puny arms and try to touch our face to His.

Glimpses into God’s kingdom overwhelm me in the best possible way. I feel so full in those moments – I can’t fathom what it will be like to be in His fullness, to experience every part of His goodness and love. I’m giddy just thinking about it.

[ p.s. listen to Preson Phillips’ song entitled “Until God’s Realm Comes” to hear what made me first start watching for these glimpses, and also hear where I blatantly stole this entry title from ]

A Fickle Daughter I Have Been.

Confession time.

My last blog post talked a lot about going to Tennessee and how I originally did not want to but God shoved me off the pedestal I had accidentally (not) placed myself on and told me to get going. Now, that entire post was true. And while writing it I did feel so confident and secure in going. People would ask me about it I would say “YEAH! I’m going because God told me to!” and give them a high five. And it was all very genuine. But in the last two weeks before going, some bad news spiritual warfare started going on and it really knocked me. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this – that I was confident in God’s stirrings should have made me acutely aware of satan’s attempts to discourage me.

My last Sunday morning at Watermark served as a tipping point.

Frankly, I cry most Sunday’s anyway. Any boy that has ever dated me and any friend that has ever known me knows that emotion & I are no strangers to one another, especially when you put me inside a church. It happens. And it happened this sunday especially. I think a lot of people thought I was sad to be at my last church service, but that wasn’t it at all. Of course my heart is heavy away from Watermark – and you can bet your britches I miss my roommates and beautiful friends, but I literally already have plane tickets bought to visit Tampa in September. I’m going to be around. Leaving isn’t tragic. What I was so distraught over was the heaviness from the spiritual battle that I was in. My brain was cloudy, my heart was jumbled, I was terribly unhappy, I felt far from my God. And I know that when something is making me feel far from my God that I need to get my tail home and start praying up a storm. So, after church when I was asked to go to lunch I had to look at my friends with red and weepy eyes and say “Actually, I need to go home and cry a lot and pray. I’ll meet up with you guys in a few hours”.

This was another one of those really difficult and really informative prayer times that I mentioned in my last post. The kind that you enter into knowing you’re about to get dealt with in the most beautiful of ways. Suffice it to say, I was dealt with. Yet again.

A few days before I left I was telling all this to a lovely friend over Coldstone ice cream and we laughed about the individual ways God addresses his children. For her, God is so tender and so loving. He ends every thought with some sweet sentiment or term of endearment because He knows that that is how she needs to be loved. For me, God is very brash (though not unloving) and straightforward with me. At times I swear I can feel him putting His strong hands on my small shoulders, sense Him leaning His glorious head near mine, and hear Him saying “We’re finished with this nonsense, there is no room for this in my Kingdom”, because He knows that that is how need to be loved.

I won’t go through the two hour prayer time because, frankly, it’s precious and it’s mine, but I’ll share this: my prayer started out very selfishly. I demanded to know why God was making me leave my comfort zone, my friends, my church. Why couldn’t I have a normal ‘dream’ like everybody else? Why couldn’t He have made me a little bit smarter? Why was I a nanny when all I really want to do is photograph children in Haiti? I flipped open my bible because I was too flustered to quiet my brain to hear God any other way. Luke 10:41 –

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.

God is weaving a tapestry that I can’t see yet. I’m stressing out about the mess that I see right in front of me and it’s making me doubt the only One who can see the whole picture — the only One who has any control. The necessary thing is to follow God. To do what He asks. To reflect Christ to every person that I meet, in Tampa, in Memphis, in the ice cream aisle at the grocery store.

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That night, after the crazy settled, I found myself sitting at The Mermaid Tavern around midnight with a friend I had only just begun getting to know. While regaling the tale of my day I realized and said aloud, “God did not create me to be somebody’s wife. He didn’t create me to be a mother, or a photographer, or anything other than a mirror. My highest calling is to reflect Christ to people who don’t know Him.”

That’s the mindset I have to keep while I am in Tennessee, for however long. This doesn’t mean I spend every day evangelizing. Not at all. This certainly doesn’t mean that my goal is to save everyone I know or convert them. I can’t do anything of the sort. But it does mean that God has put me in an incredibly specific place to show His love to people who haven’t experienced it yet. And it does mean that when He presents an opportunity to, I get to share about an incredible God who has shown me grace despite what a fickle daughter I have been.

I love you from here to Tennessee.

I graduated from college just over a year ago now and I still have no idea what I’m doing. Hi, I’m Kathryn and I’m aimless for God. I studied fine art / photography and I loved it – then I graduated, starting actively doing photography, and felt immense pushback from God. And I think I know why. Well, part of why. I’m not so bold as to imply I ever know why God does anything. But I think there was an error in the way I was setting the course of my life. I am a product of the Pinterest Generation. I love Pinterest. I think it does what it intends to really well and it’s absolutely useful. But. I think there’s a problem with Pinterest too. I read once in an article that Pinterest is like the modern day Proverbs 31 woman: it shows you how to decorate a beautiful home, make delicious recipes, tips for working out because heaven forbid us ladies get love handles, how to raise perfect children, etc. And like I said, all of these things can be useful, but when you take everything in at all once it’s a heck of a high bar to reach. For myself, I saw a lot of photography websites and blogs by mother’s who wore chevron (by the way, I’m really sick of chevron) and spent all their weekdays with their children while on the weekends photographed beautiful weddings. It was a nice system with pretty blogs attached to it and suddenly it became easier to just get in line with these women instead of doing something uniquely my own. But how dare I suggest that God wasn’t creative enough to have a plan for me that didn’t match up with what I saw on Pinterest?

So I crossed “pinterest-perfect statement necklace wearing mom and photographer” off the list of my possible careers. But the thing was, that was the only thing I had on my list.

CAREERS FOR KATIE YAKLIN:

1. Pinterest-perfect statement necklace wearing mom and photographer

2.

3.

4. Yikes.

I’m not related to anyone in the Kardashian or Hilton family, so when I realized I didn’t know what I  “wanted to do with my life” I still had bills to pay. God has never once left me out to dry. Whenever I needed some random job to get me through high school, college, and now apparently post-college, He always provided one. So, I found myself a nanny. I gotta be honest: while being a nanny has never once for a second ever been my life’s ambition, as far as jobs you have for the sake of paying your bills goes, I think being a nanny is the best. Seriously. I spend all my time with the cutest little boy and I get paid for it. I’ve become really invested and emotionally involved with my little man and his parents as well… so when they got news that they needed to move to Memphis, TN for a year for work they asked me to come with them.

“I can’t, I’m sorry” was my first response because yours truly is already settled here in Tampa. I’m madly in love with my church and my friends and my dog (okay, the dog isn’t technically mine) and a year sounds like a really long time. But then I started marinating on it for a little bit because God wouldn’t let it slide. I mentioned it to my Mother and she said if it was her, she would accept it in a heartbeat. This surprised me. My Mother is my very best friend and one of the two (the other being that husband of hers) most important people in my life – how dare she like the idea of my being so far from her! The nerve. Eventually I came round to thinking that I didn’t really have anything else going on… maybe I could go for just a couple months while they get settled. Tennessee has always fit in my general aesthetic anyway, I’m sure I could dig it. I mean, I do really love saying “y’all”. A few weeks ago though, God had a few words with me.

Do you ever enter into much needed prayer time KNOWING you’re about to get put in your place? It’s an interesting feeling – part of me feels like a little kid who knows when they’re about to get in trouble, but the other part of me feels so loved and blessed to be discipled by my heavenly Father. It’s not a feeling of dread even though it hurts sometimes. It’s knowing that my God is not detached or uninterested in me. The gist of what God told me during our really really long time together was this: it is very bold of me to claim complete submission of my life to Him and then stand face to face with an opportunity He brings me and say “Eh, I mean I’ll give you two months tops.” I don’t get to do that. I don’t get to give God boundaries. It’s really not about how long I stay in Memphis – it’s about my willingness to go wherever He would have me go and stay there for however long He would have.

So when people ask how long I’ll be in Memphis I say “2 months to a year, unless God keeps me there forever” because God hasn’t yet given me an end date. Because God isn’t accountable to me, it’s the other way around. Because a year sounds long in my young mind but God isn’t bound to time. Because I think God cares less about how long I actually stay there and more about my willingness to stay for 2 months or 15 years as He so chooses.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure though, I will never leave Tennessee if it’s without an adorable southern accent.