the hood...my home

Sunday, April 29




I know I talk a lot about my neighborhood. 
a lot. 
So today I thought I'd share more about the journey in coming here. 
it didn't exactly just happen....it was a process! 

You see, my husband and I grew up in sunny california,
spending massive amounts of time at the beach, going to disneyland, eating mexican food, etc.
ie: a wee bit insulated

but a few years ago Kevin and I started asking ourselves a question,
"does our life and marriage matter?"
 I mean, yes, we knew our lives mattered to us and our families and friends.
But beyond that, was our life and marriage making the world a more beautiful place?

Our hearts craved a vision where our marriage was about more than just "us" and being comfy.
{don't get me wrong, I still love my fro-yo and bach same as the next girl}
But man oh man, it sure can be hard gaining perspective on the deeper things in life when you live in the midst of some of the richest zip codes in the US. 
Where driving a range rover is absolute top priority.

so we figured, as christians, we'd see what the heck Jesus did when he was on earth.
{i mean, JC's a pretty good place to start when you're looking for answers, right?}
and pretty much it was this...
he hung out with the poor, the prostitutes, the hurting and the broken.
and guess what? this scared us half to death...like no joke. 
last time we checked we didn't know any poor people or prostitutes. epic fail.

so we decided to get a lil' brave, 
and ask God to show us what this might look like smack dab in the middle of Orange County.
aaannndddd He did.
just two miles from where Kevin grew up was an immigrant neighborhood we'd never even noticed before.

and so with our knees knocking, we decided to move in, and it changed our life. 
that was the start of our marriage on mission.

my apartment was fully stocked with loads of cockroaches, 
and mold, 
and cracking cabinets, 
and did i mention cockroaches? 
i was so afraid,
like"what the heck did I just do?" kind of afraid.
but you know what, i knew this was God's will.

and it changed our lives. 
we started to know the people in our neighborhood,
most of them immigrant families from central america. 
they became our best friends. 
they taught us what it looks like to live in community- 
mostly, to just BE.
in the last 4 years,
Kevin and I have opened our home to anyone who needed love.
daily we have kids over who want to play or read or bake.
mostly they are saying "I just want someone to love me, to notice me"
and we get that incredible privilege!

we fail a lot,
 and sometimes lock our doors while the kids pound on it.
but mostly that front door is wide open.

we have led workshops on cooking and basketball,
we have crammed 60+ ppl into our apartment for a baby shower we hosted for our neighbors
and learned all about mexican baby shower games, haha!
I started a girls group for college aged girls doing crafts and games and just hang out.
we've discipled kids, and been hurt by them.

but the bottom line is we've tried to love like Jesus.
and it's rocked our world, hard.
we're not perfect,
but i'm learning that really we just need to be available.
because when we are open is when God brings people into your life!

it's been a joy.

love Katie  

k-dawg

Tuesday, April 24

happy birthday to the most
handsome
loyal
servant hearted
humble
Godly
thoughtful
hilarious
fun
adventurous
caring
husband

i love you k-dawg
love, your bride, Katie 

travel log: much love from Catalina Island

Sunday, April 22



this weekend we experienced the magic of catalina island.
literally, right in our backyard, you would feel as though you are in another country. 
and that may not be far off, as during hollywood's golden age, catalina became the backdrops for landscapes across the world (ie: greece, north africa, the wild west). 

kevin and i decided when we were dating, that we didn't need any more stuff for our birthdays. 
we traded in our gift wrap for weekend get-a-ways, quality time over objects to be stashed. 
in january i found a groupon for a quaint historic hotel in downtwon Avalon (the main city on the island) and a groupon for parasailing. 
you can see i'm really into buying groupons, haha! 

so for his 28th birthday, i surprised kevin with a little jaunt across the pacific. 

with a mystic fog, we sailed in. 
we ate ice cream. 
we frequented Lloyds candy shop for fresh salt water taffy more than we frequented our hotel room. 
we read. 
we ran into some friend (like literally walked through their wedding reception without even knowing it!) that was a laugh.
we drove a golf cart around the island like the locals. 
we sang karaoke. 
we ate a picnic lunch.
and laughed till our bellies hurt.  
notice the ice cream trend? at one point kev told me he didn't want to be the "fat kid" and get a second ice cream of the day. i told him it was his birthday weekend and he was the king. he didn't need anymore convincing. (and like seriously, that boy doesn't gain anything but muscle so Big Olaf's got nothin' on him! i kind of just wanted to use big olaf's in a sentence, cause that is the MOST hilarious name for an ice creams shop. ) 


aaaannnndddd....
we also went parasailing. 
highlight. yes. it. was. 
soaring with my baby in the air. 

just doing my civic duty as an old IC roadie...cover the night catalina island!! 
goodbye island life. 

sooo moral of this weekend is....
 if you are craving the greek isles or italian coast, and don't have the bucks to get there, I would wonderfully recommend this sweet lovely place. very romantic and idyllic indeed. just...watch for groupons baby!!! 

hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 
love Katie 

Stepping Out Diaries- red shoes

Friday, April 20


so recently i have been wonderfully challenged.
to. step. out.
to posture myself in the desperate.
to truly need Him.

it all started a few weeks ago when Francis Chan spoke at a concert kevin and i went to.
Francis recalled the story in 1 Kings 18 when Elijah the prophet is on mt carmel
and pitted against elijah are 800 other prophets of false gods also on mt carmel
and they want to kill elijah and prove that their god is more powerful than elijah's God

elijah
800 false prophets
those are bad odds

elijah asks God to move, to show the people that HE is
THE ONE TRUE GOD
and bam
fire from heaven
things literally heat up

Francis became so fixated with the idea of God moving and showing himself
that he prayed and prayed that when he spoke, God would do something crazy to display His power
Francis wanted the earth to shake or people to feel God's power in crazy ways. 
and when it didn't happen like he wanted it to, he asked God "why not show yourself like you did to elijah and the prophets?" 

and simply, God spoke this...
"francis, i moved powerfully because elijah put himself in a place where he was desperate. he was going to be killed, the odds were against him. you speak at churches and concerts, no one is looking to kill you!! you see, i move when you step out. i move when you put yourself in desperate places" 

and so kevin and i, we began to realize that we want to be desperate for God to move. we don't want to be spectators in a church. we want to taste the kingdom of God and participate in the spontaneous work of the holy spirit! 

and so yes...last night it began. here is the story of red shoes. 
{right before we left for the service, my sweet neighbor J}

every third wednesday, our church has an organic service where we pray and worship and just listen. at the end of the service our pastor just felt like we needed to prayer walk around our church. he asked us to listen to the Lord to see if we felt anything in particular to pray for. 

and i heard RED SHOES. 
weird, right? 

so we go outside, and we're plodding around talking and chatting
and then
Colby spots a lady on the other side of the street wearing bright red shoes. 
awkwardly kev and i sprint across the street and start to follow her
but then when we were almost caught up, i looked at kev and said
"what the heck do i even do now? what do i say?" 
the whole time i'm thinking "i'm just going to scare this poor woman half to death"

"hi" was all i could manage. i figured that was a good way to start a conversation. 
turns out, i was right. 
so we start to chat. her eyes light up, and she's not as weirded out as we were anticipating
much to our delight (whew!)
in fact, she was excited. we stood there, the three of us at 9pm at night and chatted. 
her name is Klara. 

i asked her where she was walking to. she said "home". 
where is home? i ask. 
i live on Garnet. 

my heart skipped a beat
kevin and i live on Garnet. 
we are neighbors. 
red shoed Klara is our neighbor. 

we talked and laughed and kev and i pathetically tried to speak spanish.  
that was the other miracle of the night, let's just say kev and i are no-bueno when it comes to espanol. 
and then we exchanged numbers. we invited her to dinner, her and her family. 

so next week, 
red shoes is coming to dinner. 
and i KNOW Abba has something in store. 
ohhhh i'm SO excited because i know that this wasn't an accident! 
and now i get to step back and watch the holy spirit move. 

And so...i'm going to start these blog posts called the "Stepping Our Diaries" because how cool would it be if we all intentionally took risks to step out and watch the Holy Spirit move in our desperation? 

let's challenge ourselves to step out of comfort
and into a place of truly. utterly. needing. him.
where we feel awkward and unqualified. 

no more spectating in church. 
no more fluffy talk of kingdom living, when we are not living kingdom values.
risk. NEEDING him. prayers on knees bended. open hands. 
"use me" kind of talk. 

desperate. 

excited, yes. mmmm yes, it's going to be awesome. 
and you are a part of this adventure. 
let's share stories together. 

love Katie 
happy weekend! i'm taking kev on a surprise birthday adventure. can't wait to share more with you next week:) 

April 18

Wednesday, April 18


April 18th 
Today was my actual due date 
Yep, that's right...I was born 6 weeks early
first time i've ever been early to anything in my life
all went downhill after my birth
kevin's working on changing that habit 
we'll see how that goes


I LOVE this picture of me and my mom 
Chubby cheeks? CHECK
hard to imagine i weighed only 4 pounds at birth
evidently i put the pounds on fast


my dad tells this story that when i was born, he could hold my whole body in the palm of his hand
it's become a bit of a legend
he shared it in his awesome daddy speech at our wedding
makes my heart happy thinking about that moment

spending so much time with my mom and dad this weekend made me miss them. 
love you M&D

love Katie 

...and so excited to share a sweet story with you next time....

the gift of ourselves

Monday, April 16


this weekend Kevin and I went home to northern California to visit my family
refreshing as can be. truly, lovely. 
being one of four kids, it is a rare treat for kevin and I to have my parents all to ourselves. i relished it. 
bike rides through almond orchards, sun shining bright. Cuddling by the fire place as rain dripped wet outside. Mom making me delish gluten free meals. Coffee with friends, flowers at farmers market, lunch with dear ones. 

on the way back to the airport, I connected with a dear friend who has been going through a hard season. a season marked by confusion where Abba feels far off. a battle with fear itself. wounds resurfaced. 

but her solstice was not a stranger to me. as i've walked with this friend, i've shared with her about a period I lived through that seemed to paralyze and cripple the essence of me. my bout with tears and fears. i do not attempt to understand the why but only that I trusted hope. i trusted the Prince of Peace to restore me. and he has. 

but in that moment, when my friend spilled tears raw, mine came too. outpouring. because it in that second, i understood, that maybe, just maybe, what i experienced can now transcend my tunnel vision on ME. my wounds somehow have given me the authority to stand in solidarity with the suffering around me. for what good is pain coupled with victory if we do not share this redemption with others? 

to stand in solidarity, be it painful or joyful, brings life. 
encouragement for the weary heart. 
to announce "you are not alone, you are not crazy, i have been there, and i have reached the other side" can bind wounds. 
hope prevails. 

Henri, once again, has so beautifully put to words what my soul learned: 
 "we must make our own lives - our sorrows and joys, our despair and hope, our loneliness and experience of intimacy - available to others as sources of new life. One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves.  We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say:  "Do not be afraid, I know what you are living and I am living it with you.  You are not alone."  Thus we become Christ-like shepherds."
so may we not be afraid of where our past has dragged us, but may we use it as a gift to offer others. may we allow God to gently use our wounds to bring healing and life to others. 

there is purpose in pain, comfort in solidarity. 

let us step out, and give the gift of ourselves today. 

much love,
Katie 

love...that tall and tough order

Wednesday, April 11


1 Corinthians 13:4-8

kevin read this to me during his EPIC proposal
we had this passage read at our wedding in different languages
i'm still in the process of trying to paint it on the wall above our bed

i even made a lovely valentines post with this verse to our engagement pics

but newsflash people, TRUE love is hard
it's not all flowers and sunspots like my pictures reflect

and i'm not talking hard as in loving mr. tall dark and handsome. no, he's easy. i swoon over this man.

i'm talking hard as in we're just plain bad at this kind of love in our daily lives to all the randos or not so random people we come into contact with. 

 i've had that epiphany many times, but honestly a few days ago in the bathroom of all places, when i was meditating on that verse, i almost laughed out loud at how bad i am at some all of these aspects of love. 

here's the rundown.

Love never gives up. 
Love cares more for others than for self. 
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. 
Love doesn't strut, 
Doesn't have a swelled head, 
Doesn't force itself on others, 
Isn't always "me first," 
Doesn't fly off the handle
 Doesn't keep score of the sins of others
 Doesn't revel when others grovel
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best
Never looks back
But keeps going to the end.

if there was a harder list to follow, i haven't found it (well...Leviticus is a close second, but thank God those rule are out-dated). 

i find myself so convicted. how often do i put myself first? i mean honestly, ask yourself when you haven't put "me first". 

how often do i realize that by being thankful for what i have and not coveting others is a form of true love? no wonder we can be such a miserable race...we buy all this crap in hopes that it will make us happy, but TRULY what gives life is being thankful for what God has already provided. 

love looks for the best. i'll admit, i'm not always looking for the best in others. sometimes i find myself so annoyed by the actions of those around me, that i don't chose to love them by seeking the treasures of who they are. and then it's me who misses out on a love opportunity. 

i love that our savior was a washer of dirty feet. 
a savior that was nailed to wood for us. 
everything about him shouted "you before me" 

let's live LOVE today and shout "YOU BEFORE ME" 

and currently, maybe your world is not all rainbows and smiley faces...
 but HOPE rises in the form of love. and love comes in living unselfishly with MUCH much gratitude. 

so let's sow some seeds of love today, starting with thanksgiving and working our way down this list! because love, true love, are these hard but glorious truths!  

much LOVE,
Katie

ice cream and redemption

Sunday, April 8


friday night was GOOD friday
and 2 sweet college age girls from our neighborhood came over and we had a girls sleepover
one was a girl i met immediately when i moved into the neighborhood 3 years ago
and the other i just met in january and saw come to know sweet Jesus


3 girls, we sat
we ate ice cream sundaes and i made them sit in front of my fake fireplace with me
we giggled, like girls do, and we drank tea and coffee in cute anthro mugs and felt cozy

but then we began to share
stories. 
life stories.
our stories. 
and these gorgeous girls whom i love, became real
and i did too.
we each opened, raw and vulnerable, slow and steady, recounting sins destruction.
other's sin. our sin. 
tears into anthro mugs.  

and on that "good" friday tales of 
drugs
humiliation
abuse
suicide
promiscuity
cheating
addiction
hatred
unforgivness
hurt, pain, suffering
loneliness
sickness

seeped raw on the table. from the inside we wept for each other, for the things we each had to face. no, no, i screamed. that isn't fair. no one should have to deal with this. or that. 

at last our stories laid bare, we huddled together on the big couch. we held hands in unity, and shared this spiritual moment that jesus, yes JESUS, he is bigger than our past. he is more powerful than sin. 

ah yes, he took this sin with him on good friday. he carried it. and today, HE ROSE. 

He ROSE, and it was gone. and as we sat there, THIS was the picture we received....

drugs redeemed!
humiliation redeemed!
abuse  redeemed!
suicide redeemed!
promiscuity redeemed!
cheating redeemed!
addiction redeemed!
hatred redeemed!
unforgivness redeemed!
hurt, pain, suffering redeemed!
loneliness  redeemed!
sickness redeemed!

Easter is about redemption. our redemption. all things made new
in Christ's POWER
restoration is ours
healing is ours
forgiveness is ours

and so we ate pancakes with strawberries and banana, and we prayed "Lord, make us new" 

and so we press in. and the potter, yes, he makes us new. 
Love Katie



italia memories and some wedding photos

Thursday, April 5

dear dear friends

just this week i discovered a folder of pictures from when i lived in italy. they've been lost for years, and just the other day i had a crazy inkling of where they might be. whoa, this was right when the digital camera came out, so yes, a long time ago. since i minored in the most useful subject on the planet, italian, i moved to italy and lived with a lovely family. in the heart of siena, my beloved siena. 

ohhh I squealed with delight when i found these pics. most of them i don't really care about, but...can I share with you today a treasure that bottles up so many delightful memories of my time in Siena? 


gahhh, i told you it was a delight. in fact, i won first place with this beauty at the study abroad office photo contest. big.deal. I know. they gave me a UCD bookstore gift certificate- i turned around and spent that baby on a UCD sweatshirt that has since traveled all over the world with me, and has lost all of its fleece but none of its magic. 

i digress. 

so the story. sunshine and crisp air. i was walking towards the campo, the most beautiful piazza in all of Italia (in my humble opinion) and i spotted them. 4 old men chatting, and laughing, eyes dancing, hands waving furiously. i didn't want the moment to end, as i gobbled up the art of "congregating". italians, and especially those from siena, know how to congregate. it's an art. everyday they just take time to be with one another. priority. i think these 4 had done if for the last 60 years of their lives, and they had the  bonds of friendship to prove it. 

not wanting them to see me, i tried to hide my lens. but they spotted me (oh darn my american-ness!). nervously i looked away for a second, and when I turned around their eyes were on me, pure sparkles and smiles and laugher on wrinkled faces. relaxing, i laughed too and snapped my favorite picture of my entire time living la vita bella.  

but it's magical. their smiles. the vino. the pasta. the friendship. 

as I was thinking about this photo, i realized how the creator of our lives made us to enjoy the art of congregating. to make priority the deepening of bonds, the ability to welcome and be welcomed, the loveliness of trust and friendship. for the art of congregating is where the sparkle comes from...congregating first with Abba, and then with others! Happy congregating!

Love Katie
ps- I JUST updated my wedding section on my blog. I'm having so much fun reliving this gorgeous day, and may have gone a little over-board! haha...and i'm NOT even to the reception yet. That will have to wait till next time. Enjoy!! 

what mama's do

Tuesday, April 3


Last summer I had the AMAZING privilege of traveling to Aneby, Sweden for a family reunion. 75 Swedes, and 75 Americans gathered at the heart of the birthplace of our ancestors to celebrate the family bonds that are still held together today.


Ya, ya, I know... we Rystrom's and our heritage!! (and...fyi- even though I am no longer a Rystrom in name, the Swede in me will never die!)

I'm not kidding, there was so much love and laughter that week. We stayed at an old campground, ate loads of ostakaka, sang (err...tried to sing) Swedish songs, saw the church and home where gg grandma grew up, and just lived life together in Swedish and English!

The story, which ends up being My story, started in the 1800’s with two sister, Maria and Hedwig. Times were hard in Sweden. Famine, religious persecution, illness and poverty gripped Europe tightly. Maria chose to stay and raise her family in Sweden. Hedwig on the other hand chose against all odds to leave with her husband and travel to America. Food and jobs were scarce in Sweden, and with a famine in the land, Hedwig chose to make the horrendous voyage across the sea to a country where she did not know the customs, the language, or the people.

But she did it for love.
Love of God to worship freely.
Love of her children, wanting to give them a better life and more opportunities.
And she suffered.
At the end of her life, Hedwig told a relative that had she known how hard it was, she would not have gone. Life as an immigrant was not easy, but she chose love- to go and give her family a better opportunity. She chose the road of sacrifice.

So here I am, over a hundred years later, a descendent of an incredible woman that made the hard choice to leave her home and everything she knew to make a better life for her family. The prejudice, the struggles, and language barriers Hedwig faced were not in vain. God has blessed her heart and her faithfulness to her family, and I am a living testimony to that.

Her story reminds me of the countless Latina women in my neighborhood who have braved the hardship, in order provide for their precious children.

These are the women who looked around the poverty in their own country and dreamt bigger dreams for their children.

Women who could not look at their starving children anymore and take the heart-wrenching faces of hunger.

Women who saw the lack of education and aspired to something more for their beloved children.

Is that not the heartbeat of every mother, regardless of time in history, language, ethnicity, or origin?

These last few years living on Garnet, I have been encountering epic stories of immigrants that have transformed the way I think and the way I live. No longer does immigration conjure pictures of Ellis Island, or stories of a nameless immigrant in the newspaper.

They are my neighbors. They are my friends.
They are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

and they are brave.

So before we are ever quick to pass judgement on someone who may be different than us, remember that we really are not that different after all. And that we have a lot to learn from one another. and a lot of love to give.

and that mama's
yes, sweet mama's
are the same regardless of origin, history, economics, culture

Happy Tuesday friends!
love Katie