Be That – Katie’s Story
I grew up in a loving Christian home, the youngest of five children. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was young and although I didn’t know that much of the Bible I was always very aware of the presence and voice of God. I recall one occasion when I was in my classroom at school and suddenly became very unsettled and overwhelmed. I knew something was wrong. Not quite understanding what I was experiencing I asked to go home. My mum came and collected me and as we drove past the home of a family from our church, I saw an ambulance outside their house. I realised that the heaviness I was feeling in my heart was for this family and I asked mum to stop. She replied, ‘It is probably something next door’ and we continued on our way home. Later that night we found out that there had been an accident there and their young daughter was now fighting for her life.
I was only nine years old but I knew it was not God’s will for her to die and I begged to go the hospital to see her and pray with her. I was told that this situation was ‘no place for a child.’ Sadly, the young girl passed away. Many people were praying for that little girl, all with different requests. This experience stirred in me a desire to find out why? I wondered which prayers God hears and how do we see them manifested earth side. This quest for accessing the fullness of God’s provision and promises has become a theme of my journey with God.
Over the next few years my parents experienced hurt and betrayal in our church and their attendance became more and more infrequent. My parent’s relationship was also under a lot of pressure as my father made some reckless choices that shook the foundation of our family. My parents’ marriage was beginning to crumble but at the same time my mum was discovering a relationship with God that was unlike anything that she had experienced before. Her eyes were being opened to the unconditional love of God, the power of the cross and the fullness of what it meant to live as God’s daughter. As the youngest child, I spent a lot of time with my mum. The more she learned about God the more she shared with me. I suffered a lot from anxiety and fear of sickness, so together we created a song that she told me to sing whenever I felt fearful.
“Go away Satan, you can’t trick me. Jesus died on the cross for me.
By His Stripes, I am healed. Go away Satan, you can’t trick me”
Little did I know as a young girl, that this truth would be the very thing that became my anchor in my own daughter’s battle with a life-threatening illness.
As I entered the teenage years church was no longer a meaningful part of my life. The added instability brought on by some of my father’s choices led me to start pushing the boundaries at home and school. I was having fun but I was making decisions that were hurtful and destructive to me and my family. By 16, I was in a disastrous relationship having meaningless sex, taking drugs, and drinking to excess.
I found myself in a cycle of depression, anxiety, guilt and condemnation that left me physically, emotionally and spiritually empty.
Somehow, in the midst of this mess I met the man who would eventually become my husband. It is a miracle that he stuck with me. Even though I knew I loved him, my reckless behaviour gave him plenty of reasons to run in the opposite direction; but he didn’t. On my 22nd birthday, he proposed. Our excitement was short-lived however as only 10 days later we got the very unexpected news that I was pregnant.
This was not part of the plan.
I was devastated and inconsolable. I did not want a baby.
We discussed options but in our hearts, we both knew that we were going to have this baby. I really struggled with the enormity of this new reality. Sick and mentally exhausted, I spent most of my pregnancy, hiding away, sleeping, and willing it to be over. I was eventually excited about the baby, but the process was torturous.
Our daughter Emmy was born five days overdue. Although the labour and delivery were normal the doctors soon began to notice that things weren’t quite right with her. Within hours she was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NNICU). I was only 22, and so naïve. I hadn’t even heard of NNICU. The staff began to explain that something was very wrong with our baby but even as they were speaking words of despair, I felt peace. Of course, I cried and the emotion of the situation was very real, but there was a voice inside me that told me that I didn’t need to worry. What rose up inside of me was the song I had sung as a child. When I look back now I realise that God was protecting me from fear.
Emmy was eventually diagnosed with a respiratory condition (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the new-born) and in medical and natural circumstances, she shouldn’t have survived. We were informed that she would have development issues, loss of hearing, brain damage and more. As the days passed and the medical diagnoses were explained, I listened, but my heart and mind were set on the promise that ‘by His stripes, Emmy was healed.’ Miraculously, we saw Emmy completely healed and out of NNICU within a week, without any real medical explanation as to how she recovered so quickly. I however, knew what God had done for us. As we took Emmy home, I knew this wouldn’t just be a whole new journey as a mother; it would also be a whole new journey in rediscovering God and freedom.
I had experienced God’s goodness first hand.
I couldn’t turn my back on Him and go back to how life was before. I began to seek and enquire more and more about Him. I spent hours reading my Bible, listening to podcasts and studying his word. I just couldn’t get enough. I learnt about a God who loved me so much and sent his Son to die for me. Through him I now had access into this life of grace, where everything I ever needed in life was already there. The promises in the Bible were already mine. I just had to believe and receive it. I was a young stay at home Mum and Marc was establishing himself in a new job. We had little money. But through Emmy’s miracle, I believed that I could trust God to take care of us and He did.
A couple of years later, we welcomed our second little girl Bonnie, into our family and in 2013, Marc and I had decided we were ready for another baby. I believed that God would bless us with a boy, but we were just excited to add another member to our family. We waited, and waited and waited. This was an amazing lesson in patience for me and I used the opportunity to grow, knowing that He wasn’t withholding a baby from me. I had to learn to choose to trust him. Anyone who has wanted a baby would know, you want it to happen straight away. Emotions hit each month and my mind was trying to rob me of the peace I had over the situation. I just had to keep my focus on His will for only good in my life.
Sure enough, on New Year’s Eve 2013 I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy, Jack. He is such a blessing and brings so much joy to our lives. Unexpectedly, in late 2014, Marc was approached by his company to move interstate and set up a new office. This was a huge promotion and opportunity for him and I praised God as he had prepared it perfectly for us. This huge move could have been very stressful, but it was the easiest and smoothest transition we’d ever had.
It’s been nearly four years since we moved to Queensland from Tasmania and to say it’s been a whirlwind would be putting it lightly. Moving to a new state, without knowing a single person brought a whole new dimension of stretch to my life. From building friendships, trying new and different opportunities, failing, experiencing disappointments and betrayal, finding a church, starting a business, raising kids and more, I have learned to rely on God’s grace and wisdom like never before.
Although we moved to Queensland for Marc’s work, it has become obvious that the move was part of a bigger purpose and calling on our lives. I have seen God right in the midst of everything that we have navigated since moving. I have established such crazy, heaven aligned connections and relationships that I am left in no doubt that God’s hand is at work in my life.
I believe with all of my heart that what I have seen God outwork in my life is available for everyone. He has a divine call for each of our lives and for me, that is to help others find freedom; to be a link in a chain that connects people to God, purpose, and each other. It is that conviction that led me to begin the movement, Be That.
What began as casual gatherings to encourage conversation around issues effecting personal freedom and community, has evolved into a movement that has expanded well beyond my dreams and expectations. We are still very much ‘on the journey’ but I am constantly amazed at how God takes our simple acts of obedience and faith and multiplies their impact. Be That gatherings are now being held in multiple locations, we have launched a website that provides resources and inspiration for anyone who wishes to host a gathering in their own community and we recently filmed the first episodes for ‘Be That’ television programme to be shown on the Foxtel network.
When I first sensed the Holy Spirit awaken the idea for a television show in my heart, I envisaged a small, amateurish ‘at home’ type process. In a matter of weeks of giving voice to the idea I was in discussion with the Australian Christian Channel (ACC), watching a miracle unfold. The journey has been made even sweeter by the fact that this project is allowing others to step into their own callings and dreams that have been in their hearts for years. I constantly pinch myself that I get to play a part in this.
I have realised more and more, that we should not ever limit what God can do in, and through our lives.
Over the past 32 years I have seen Gods hand mightily upon my life. Salvation is so much more than Gods’ rescue plan. His purpose is to bring blessing, joy, peace, prosperity and fulfilment to our lives now, even as we face hard and dark times. The greatest journey of my life has been learning to receive what Jesus has already done for me. My prayer is that everyone will come to know the fullness of God’s purpose in their life and the true freedom that only he can bring.