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McGee Christmas Card

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I have decided to go “paperless” this year with my Christmas card. (Because “paperless” sounds so much more respectable than “lazy”;))

Dave & Krista

This was a bittersweet year for us. We are raising our kids with the prayer they will be Christ-following adults who would leave the “nest” to serve Him. But now that the “nest leaving” is actually here, it’s tough! Exciting, yes, rewarding, certainly. But still tough. Also, as most of you know, 2017 brought in the unexpected, untimely, death of my mother. Having lost his mom four years ago, Dave well understood the range of emotions such a loss brings. He has been a great help as I navigate through this grief. Professionally, Dave and I love our jobs. Dave teaches high school Bible, and I teach high school English and Drama. We have great administrators, co-workers, and students, and we feel blessed to be here.

Emma

Emma graduated from high school in May. She takes her last final at San Diego Christian College tomorrow, and then she will take a semester off to pursue a desire God laid on her heart two years ago: Attending a five-month Discipleship Training School with YWAM in Ensenada, Mexico. There, she will learn more about God’s word, and she will be involved in compassion and outreach ministries in Central and South America. She plans to pursue a career as a Christian counselor, and so she will continue her education in the fall. She has been working at Panera for a year and a half and, along with saving up most of the money needed for YWAM, Emma also has quite a ministry among her co-workers.

Eliana

Ellie is a junior in high school. She loves volleyball, and was a captain on the Varsity volleyball team this year. She also plans to join the softball team in the spring. Along with being quite athletic, Ellie is a talented actress and singer. She was cast as the Stepmother in the spring musical, “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. She works at Panera, as well, and is saving up her money to visit family and friends in Florida this summer. Ellie is fiercely loyal, deeply compassionate, and diligent. Ellie’s love for God is evident to all who know her. She is also, to Dave’s delight, an excellent cook. I try and let her take over that job as often as possible!

Thomas

Thomas is a freshman in high school. He is also, as of a month or so ago, the tallest in the family. He started 2017 somewhere around 5″6″, and he is now just about 6′ tall. He plays goalie for his club soccer team, and he is starting on the school’s varsity soccer team, playing in the field. Thomas plays the guitar for the youth group’s worship band, having taught himself the instrument (thanks, You Tube!). In his free time, Thomas enjoys playing video games and annoying his sisters. Thomas is funny, gregarious, and kind. He keeps our hearts full and our pantry empty.

What Mary Knew

Posted by on Dec 6, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Much has been written, discussed, sung, and speculated about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mainly because she was the mother of Jesus!Image result for mary and angel

I have been thinking about her more lately because I have been digging into the first chapter of Luke in my Quiet Time.  I realized that the “Christmas Story” had become too mundane, and I didn’t want that. This was the greatest event in human history! It isn’t just some cute wooden figures on my mantle or verses printed on a card.

I know Mary was exceptional – she had amazing faith, astounding humility. And, as the commentary pointed out, she knew scripture well. Pretty impressive for a teenage girl! The angel called her highly favored, and Christians for centuries past have honored her.

Image result for outcastHowever, as I was reading, it struck me that, in her own lifetime, she was likely shunned. We can infer that no one – other than Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah – believed her story about an immaculate conception. And so, in this highly legalistic environment, she was most likely looked on as a pariah. She was probably not invited to “Mommy and Me” groups, probably not invited over to dinner with other families. If she attended synagogue, people likely put plenty of space between themselves and her. The religious leaders, confident that they would be the first to know when the Messiah arrived, may have been horrible to Mary. How dare she claim to know something they didn’t?

And yet, when faced with this news, Mary’s immediate response was to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.” She truly cared more about pleasing God than pleasing man. Her prayer in Luke 1:46-55 is filled with references from the Old Testament scriptures, and it is full of praise. Knowing she was facing “social suicide”, Mary chose to focus on the goodness of God, of His mercy and His promises.

As we enter this Christmas season, I want to follow Mary’s example. I want to be the Lord’s servant. I want to face difficulties with my focus – not on the difficulties – but on the goodness of God, of His mercy, and His promises. I want to say, with Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Not Gonna Do It

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I hate saying I’m wrong.

I’d rather take a semester of Calculus than say I’m wrong. I’d rather eat a bucket full of broccoli than say I’m wrong. I’d rather have a mouse run across my foot than say I’m wrong.

I wish this were one of those posts where I follow that up with something wonderful and mature, a life lesson that turned me around and made me joyful when given the opportunity to admit my mistakes.

Image result for not wrong

Sorry. Not gonna happen. Not yet, anyway. This is one of those posts where I admit I am still growing and falling and struggling. Do I think I am never wrong? No. I know I make mistakes. But saying it out loud? Ouch. That is so difficult. I’d rather act like the wrong never happened. Or, even better, justify why my wrong wasn’t nearly as bad as other people’s. I’m really good at that. I make excuses for my wrongs, I sugar coat them, I do anything – anything – rather than admitting them.

But – and here’s the lesson that God keeps trying to teach me and I keep remaining too hard-headed to totally learn – I am miserable when I refuse to admit I’m wrong. Making excuses and justifications, ignoring or blaming – those do not bring satisfaction. Being right all the time is exhausting! And it distances me from the One who knows the truth.

On those rare occasions that I actually do admit I’m wrong, it feels good. After I say it. Before I say it, my stomach is in knots, my tongue is tied. I have beautiful, long debates with myself about whether or not it’s really necessary – and, to be perfectly honest, the “you don’t need to say it” argument wins most of those.

Maybe other people don’t struggle with this. Maybe you’re reading this thinking I am crazy. You can say “Sorry” all day and not be bothered at all. Well, good for you. I bet you like broccoli, too, don’t you?

But this is where I am. Not finished, still in process. Still struggling with things that a two-year-old struggles with.

I am thankful for a God who doesn’t give up on people as pig-headed as me. I am thankful for a God who doesn’t just say, “Do whatever you want. It’s fine.” Because it isn’t fine! But a God who says, “You ARE wrong, but I love you enough to help make you right.”

Ruled by Rules

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I like rules. I like boundaries and expectations. I like to-do lists. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I have completed an assigned task, according to the specific rules set in place for that task.Image result for rule follower

There are some good things about being a rule follower: I get things done, usually on time and usually according to the directions. I avoid doing “bad” things. Even in high school, I tended to avoid the parties and groups that encouraged lawless behavior. I learn from others who break rules, and I avoid the consequences I see them face.

There are some bad things about being a rule follower, too. Those of you who hate following rules already know these (and can probably add to them!): I can be very self-righteous when I see others breaking the rules. I can spot the hypocrisy in other rule followers, and it annoys the crap out of me (which is is hypocritical of me, I know). I can judge others, not based on their actual character, but based on how well they follow rules.

The worst, though, is that, along with being a rule follower, I can also be extremely prideful. So that, when people break rules and those broken rules affect me, I get very frustrated. But because I am also a people pleaser, I often keep that frustration to myself, letting it fester in my mind and take root and become bitterness. How DARE that person do that to ME?? Doesn’t he know the RULES? Hasn’t he read in the Bible where it says (fill-in-the-blank with whatever offense is gnawing away at me). Then, as you read in my previous post, when I can’t hold all that in anymore, I explode. And break all the rules.

Image result for christ sets free from lawHere’s the thing, though: The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was because man was completely incapable of rule-following his way into heaven. We can’t make ourselves righteous. We can’t make ourselves holy. In fact, when we try that, we get even farther from God, even farther from Truth.

Jesus came to abolish the Law. But not so we can just do whatever. It is not a freedom to sin. It is a freedom from sin. We honor God’s rules, not because we are trying to “earn” holiness, but because we have it – through Christ – and because His ways really are best. His boundaries are meant to protect us, to shepherd us. Sin – like pride and hypocrisy and unkind thoughts – stunts our growth, makes us miserable, weighs us down.

My biggest struggle is dealing with my own sins and releasing the sins of others – even the offenses – to God. I can’t make people “follow the rules”. I can’t convince or berate or “expose” them into doing what is right. I can’t change anyone. But, through the power of Christ, can change. I can follow his rule: To love God and love others. Instead of being ruled by rules, I can live in the glorious freedom of being ruled by Christ.

Shut Your Mouth!

Posted by on Nov 17, 2017 in Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I have several talents I am grateful for, that I hone and try to improve, that I practice alone and with groups. But I have one particular talent that brings me far more shame than pleasure: Speaking without thinking.

I have used this talent in far too many places with far too many people to far too disastrous results. It’s not always end-of-the-world stuff. But it is always annoying at best and damaging at worst.

When I was in college, my friends would laugh at me because, no matter what was being discussed, I’d have a story for it. Rather than listening to what others were saying, engaging them, asking them questions about their story, I sat waiting, mentally preparing for when I could speak and regale the group with my story. Looking back now, I realize how incredibly gracious my friends were with me. They just let me talk, rather than turning to walk away because – invariably – I would be telling a story they’d already heard.

And that’s a more positive example. Let’s not even talk about when I yelled at a good friend, calling her a selfish jerk in front of a whole crowd of our friends. Or when I told a young man, in a very unkind manner, that he was not worthy of the girl he was dating. Or when I completely lost it in front of the entire cast of a play I was directing (more than once, for more than one play).

In every case, I let my mouth run while my brain raced to catch up. By the time I realized how ridiculous, rude, and/or arrogant I had been, it was too late. The damage had been done. What I needed to do, in every case, was to just shut my mouth.

I am going to get frustrated, I am going to get angry, I am always going to think of stories I could tell. But that doesn’t mean that I need to say everything that pops into my head. I need to think over what I am going to say, I need to make sure that what I am saying is kind, beneficial, necessary. I need to guard my mouth so that what comes out builds people up and doesn’t tear them down.

“The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.” ~Psalm 37:30

Stop Trying So Hard

Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately. It is a concept I have always struggled with. I mean, I know salvation is by grace…not by works lest any man should boast. (I grew up Southern Baptist, after all!) But I am constantly catching myself working. Do I read my Bible because I love God and want to know Him? Or because I think I am earning “points” with him? Do I treat people with kindness because that is how God treats me, or because I want people to like me? How seldom do I really just rest in the grace God gives me?

My pastor has been teaching from the book of Luke on Wednesdays, and last week he spoke on the parable of the prodigal son. He brought out something I have never considered: that when the son returned, the Father didn’t just let him in – the Father was waiting for him, watching for him. And when the Father saw his long lost son, He ran. Our pastor described the Father lifting his tunic so his feet were freer, racing down the lane, completely unconcerned that he might look foolish. His joy in seeing his lost son return home was greater than any concern he had about what others might think.

This is grace. This is how God sees us. How He sees me. The Father isn’t sitting in the house, considering whether or not I have been “good enough” to earn His attention or His love. He doesn’t meet me on the lane as I return and tell me all the ways I have failed. He doesn’t give me a “To Do” list that I need to complete to earn His favor. I have it. As a friend says, “I am God’s favorite!” And I am. So are you!

I know I spend WAY too much time trying WAY too hard. I get frustrated at myself because I don’t measure up. And I get frustrated with others because they don’t measure up, either.

How different would we be if we simply accepted the grace God offers us and lived in light of that? Loved in light of it? What would our relationship with God look like? Our relationship with others?

I don’t know about you, but I find it exhausting – all this working, all these unrealistic expectations. I want to do more than know about this grace. I want to walk in it – be embraced by it. I want to stop trying so hard to earn something that I have already have.

Behind the Pages

Posted by on Nov 1, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Not Good Enough, my contribution to THE ELI DIARIES series, is available now!

The brainchild of prolific author, Bill Myers, this series asks the question, “What if Jesus were in high school today?” With that question in mind, Bill asked a few of us to write stories from the perspective of one of the biblical characters: Mary Magdalene (Maggie), Judas (Jude), Thomas (Tommy), Martha, and Peter (Pete).

Jesus, in this series, is called Eli, and each character interacts with Him in different ways. And each character, at this point in the story, is still a seeker of Truth. None, as yet, are followers.

When Bill called me to discuss writing Martha’s stories, I laughed. He saw Martha, pre-salvation, as a hypocritical, holier-than-thou pharisee whose “goody two-shoes” mindset prevented her from truly seeing that Eli is God’s son. I laughed because I have been that girl. I am, in the words of a favorite writer, a recovering pharisee myself.

From there, the story fell into place. Martha has two younger siblings – Mary and Laz. I have three children: two girls and a boy. Friends and family who read this will recognize elements of my children in the dialogue between these siblings. Friends and family will see quite a bit of “real life” in several of the characters, as a matter of fact. Writers are told to “write what you know,” and so that is what I tried to do.

Those of us who know God’s word know that Martha ended up being a devoted follower of Jesus. This project has allowed me to consider how she got there. It has been an exciting experiment. It has also been enlightening – as I expose Martha’s hypocrisy, I see my own. I, too, struggle to ‘earn’ God’s favor. I struggle with equating being good with being righteous. I also am in desperate need of the Grace of God, even though I don’t always recognize that need.

This is the first of Martha’s stories. There will be more in the coming months. Please read this and the other stories in this series, as this “world” is intertwined. And, if you enjoy them, please consider leaving a review.

 

Remembering My Mom

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 25 comments

My mother passed away on October 6.

She was 62.

Eight months ago, her only health issue was recurring kidney stones. Eight months ago, she had so many plans for the future: She had her Retirement countdown clock going. She planned to return to the courtroom as a lawyer, once she finished her tenure as an elementary school principal. She had her art room ready so she could devote more time to that gift. She talked about traveling to Japan, where she was born, and to SE Asia, to visit my younger sister. She was going to come out to  Emma’s graduation in May and visit my youngest sister in Texas. She was going to live part-time in Tennessee, to be closer to family and friends there.

All those plans came to an abrupt halt when, on March 26, she was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer. We all had to look it up – no one had heard of that cancer before. It is rare. And it is lethal. She knew within hours of the diagnosis what doctors didn’t confirm until a few days later: this type of cancer leaves no survivors.

Mom fought it with everything she had – she endured heavy doses of chemo for three months. She continued working during those three months because that is who she was. And, when she began losing her hair, she bought pink, blonde, and red-headed wigs to match her fancy dresses for school. Because that, too, is who she was: Strong, capable, and fiercely independent.

She also had a great sense of humor. Days after her diagnosis, I  sat in the oncologist’s office with her. Several old ladies came in, wearing their loose flowerly dresses and thick white orthopaedic shoes. Mom pointed to one of them, nudged me said, “You know, I never wanted to be an old woman. At least now, I won’t have to be!”

I was able to return to Florida the last week of Mom’s life. And, as I told her best friend and caretaker, Susan, the woman I saw that week didn’t even look like my mom. Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s really gone because of that. Cancer had robbed Mom of more than just her hair and weight. It trapped her in a body that, by the time I returned, prevented her from moving, from speaking, and ultimately, from breathing.

I am processing this loss. I don’t think I can fully express all the emotions I am experiencing – though all of them, at different times in different ways, come forward. More will come, I know, as time passes.

What I do know is that my mom is no longer trapped in a body that is betraying her. I know that even her best day here on this earth is nothing compared to that first breath she took in heaven. I know that her regrets, her mistakes, even her aspirations have been forgotten in the face of Jesus, in the reality of living daily in a body that is sin-free and a Home that is eternal…

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ””

-C.T. Studd

Adventures in SE Asia

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

My son, Thomas, and I spent an amazing two weeks on the other side of the world. Because of where many of the folks I saw there are working, I have to be careful how much I say. So forgive me if I seem vague. It is not because I want to be, but because that is necessary for these precious brothers and sisters.

Part I – Fun with Family

Our first stop was the country where my sister and her family lives. It is a beautiful, though humid, place filled with amazing people. There were also some strange sights. Like this:

That’s a toilet. ON THE FLOOR. And if you’ll look around, you’ll see there’s no toilet paper. Just a water hose and a floor drain. Thankfully, there were also “western” toilets. I am not ashamed to say that I waited until the latter were available.

There were also some really neat sights – markets and malls and rivers and so much more…

Thomas discovered that soccer is a universal language. Behind my sister’s house is a large field where neighborhood  boys play nightly. They have to dodge cow patties that are deposited throughout the week (and some of them play with no shoes. Yuck!!). But they play hard and they have fun. And they accepted Thomas right in. He became one of the gang in the week we were there. He even got up early on the weekend (Friday and Saturday there) to run.  And he rode on a motorbike – with 3 other boys! – to local food vendors where he tried foods that I did not have the stomach to try. Some of the boys spoke a little English, and between that and hand signals, they all got along just fine. Thomas was sad to leave these new friends.

Part II – Sisters in Singapore

My sister and I got away for a few days and visited the amazing city/country of Singapore. Wow. If Disney World and NYC had a baby, it would be Singapore. It is beautiful, clean, and so very modern. Like visiting the future.

     

Part III – Teaching in Thailand

Our last few days were spent in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My sister attended a Homeschool Conference with fellow workers. The folks there came from all over SE Asia. Some, like my sister, live far from any other American families, and so this time was refreshing on so many levels. My niece got to see friends from the states – she even got to have a sleepover! A rare treat for her.

Volunteers from all over the US came to teach the students, care for the babies, and speak to the parents. I spent most of my time with the older kids, and I loved getting to know them and hearing their stories! I enjoyed getting some time with their parents, as well – moms who have so many jobs, not the least of which is homeschooling, and who do it with such joy. I got to see the excitement on each student’s face – 200+ – when they received the books that so many from here helped provide. Books in English are hard to find where many of these folks are, so it was a blessing for them to get these.

Thomas got to ride an elephant while we were there, and we were able to get away one night to visit a market not far from where we were staying. I would have loved to see more of this beautiful country, but there just wasn’t time.

It was an amazing trip, filled with more stories and memories than I can possibly fit into one blog. I am so thankful to have been able to go. What a blessing to step into my sister’s world and get time with her and her precious family. And what a blessing to meet other members of the bigger Family, who, like my sister, are serving and shining in some dark, difficult places.

I was humbled and challenged and awed by all I saw and experienced. And I am SO thankful to have had the opportunity to go.

Oh, The Places We’ll Go!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Christ life, Stuff about Me, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Friends, I could use your prayers: My son, Thomas, and I leave tonight for a two-week trip to SE Asia! We are super excited and a little bit nervous. It’s a LONG way away!

Our primary reason for going is to visit my sister and her family. They serve in a closed country in that region. Alexis and I will take a short trip to Singapore, just for fun. Then we’ll all go to Thailand: My sister and niece will attend an educational conference there, and I will teach a few classes to high school students and parents on college prep writing skills.

We are excited to go, and amazed at all the provisions the Father lavished on us along the way. The Conference Director told me she would love to have a new book for each student at the conference. All 250 of them. I can tell you the Enemy worked hard to keep that from happening! But in the end, the Body came through in amazing ways. Every single child has a brand-new book coming to them!

We have been planning this trip for more than six months, and it is hard to believe it is finally time to go.

We have a few specific requests we’d love for you to remember as we head out:

Image result for california to thailand image

  • Pray we are a blessing to all we come in contact with – especially my sister and her family
  • Pray we stay healthy and safe throughout the trip
  • Pray all our luggage gets through customs without any problems
  • Pray all our luggage makes it to the final destination!
  • Pray for our family – my husband Dave, and daughters Emma and Ellie – who will be staying behind while Thomas and I travel
  • Pray we know the Savior better as a result of this trip
  • Pray we can be a Light in every place we go

Thanks for praying, friends! I will post pics on my social media accounts, and I’ll write a post about the trip when we return.

~Krista