Gordon-Conwell Blog

Target Practice | Seminary Student Blogger

December 10, 2013

Kate Hightower

We had 25 people at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Seventeen of my Kentucky relatives converged on Ocala, Florida, and packed the place with the bustle of the holidays that I know too well. Rich southern drawls echoed the halls of my childhood, guitar jam sessions on the porch, and food for days stretched the extent of the weekend. One night, after a day of the merriment, I was laying in my bed, almost asleep, when my eyes fell on my longbow hanging on the wall beside my bed. My mind started to race with the glisten of fascination that had been lying dormant for so many years. I love archery. Before I went off to college, I spent hours in a hunting shop that housed a full-blown archery range and tore their targets to pieces.

I never hunted anything. For me, the gold was never in the kill, but in the art of the process. Archery always seemed really straightforward to me. But it wasn’t until I really got into it, that I discovered that it’s a pretty complex and takes a boat-load of practice to master. The primal, earthy wonder of it seemed even deeper than that. So the next day, I decided to wake my longbow from its slumber and see if I could put words to it.

My family spends the day after Thanksgiving as far away from the Black Friday melee as humanly possible. We do some fishing. We make sugar cane syrup. The men go hunting. I slipped off on my own for a little while and set up my target. The early morning quiet was a welcome to my ringing ears as the only noise seemed to be far off-voices and the dew’s soft brush against my boots. I laced up my finger guards and set an arrow to the string on my longbow. I pulled back slowly and took aim. I was pleased to feel the muscle memory spill through my arms as I took my first shot. The seductive pang of the string sent the arrow soaring smoothly through the air and thwacked just off center on my target.

I set another arrow and took aim. It was then in the seconds before I’d release the string that I discovered it: the magic of this sport that touched me so deeply.

Balancing your grip on the bow and the pull of the string is a lot to ask of your arms, so taking aim can’t be a long process or you’ll sacrifice the accuracy of the shot. In that moment when the string is back, there are still so many things that could go wrong. One last-second pull on the bow upon release could destroy the aim you worked so hard for. Any subtle motion, or quick glance elsewhere could make you lose your line of sight and send the arrow off course. For success, you must ask your entire body to focus in silence and stillness. There’s an unspeakable vulnerability here, one that, through a few stormy years of my life, shelved something I loved because it asked for just that.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the middle of my life, even at its most chaotic points, and cried out to God with little hope that He’d answer. I almost grew defensive with the idea that I would need to make any steps toward Him. That He could actually bother to ask me to do something in order to get to Him, like read His word or pray. My aim didn’t go any further than the length of my own nose. I wanted God to satisfy what I needed for what I wanted without surrendering myself to Him or His will at all. And since I knew He could do it, I’d get mad when He didn’t. He wasn’t my target. I was my target. And it was pulling me further and further away from Him.

It wasn’t long before He took me down. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my face before His transcendence. That transcendence only furthered by the glory of what it means to have Him as my focus. Because it’s in that moment, when the arrow is set and the string is back, it’s not MY strength or the soundness of MY aim that I’m leaning into.
It’s His. And He never misses.

Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , current students , student blogger

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Your Voice | Seminary Student Blogger

November 07, 2013

Kate Hightower

Struck hard
Lost
In the pitch of night
No room
For a breath
Too close
For fright

Just constant
Motion
To no where in sight
Alone and angry
My purposes run dry

A confession, a surrender
A gasp, a sigh

Stars blister the night
Making dazzled way
For beaming moonlight
The grip to relent

Strength surge to my limbs
Curl into a dance
A symphony calls further
Shatters my trance

And
Then
Your
Voice

“Arise,” say Your eyes.
“Come forth here and stay.”

A gasp, a surrender,
A declaration of tearful reply:

“You are the God who sees.”
And I bathe free in Your delight.

Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , spiritually vital , student blogger

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A Goodly Day | Seminary Student Blogger

October 08, 2013

Kate Hightower

I am ever in a sea of darkness
Death is always close at hand
And I’ve only lived to serve it,
It’s wish been my demand.
But still Thy whisper entices
My King on High bethroned.
No more my own devices
Now only Thine I know.

Today Thy glory shines.
Today enshrined in Thy state
Thy Mission of Love accomplished
Now we’re only left to wait.

Three days hence you set your promise
In three days the blood washed clean
We praise Thy victory forever
And from death
At last
I’m free.

No more my shroud of darkness
I am now bathed in Thy light.
To Thee my all and always
My One
My Lord
My Christ.

Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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For the Love of a Father | Seminary Student Blogger

September 12, 2013

Kate Hightower

This past Sunday, I took a trip across the Intracoastal to one of my favorite spots on the planet. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I still lived in Atlantic Beach, and the season’s turn to fall makes the nostalgia all the worse. But this particular day, I took the trip for a very different reason than “I wanted to feel at home.”

You see, one of my favorite things about Atlantic Beach is that it’s the best of both worlds: lush, loamy trees and greenery stand only a few short steps away from endless ocean. I have a little nook that gives me a view of both. Both can be counted upon to kindly remind me how small I really am.

It’s always an appropriate posture to be in before the God who is bigger than time. But that day, it was especially so. I took up space on the corner of the deck of the place I used to live and took a deep, full breath of the morning. I needed Him to know I was there, open and willing to listen. I needed Him to know I was ready to be small again. Clearly after the weekend, I had forgotten Who was in charge of this deal and He had been quick to remind me.

It came unexpectedly, despite the fact that I can look back through the past few weeks and see where I had been ignoring His leanings on things that would come up and pushing Him to the side of an extremely busy schedule. It truly is amazing how naïve we can be when he finally shuts us down to get our attention. It’s almost like we shrug our shoulders—“What? What are You so mad about? I have no idea where this is coming from.”

Call it bricks. Call it lightening. Whatever it was, it nailed me in the middle of one of our back, less populated hallways here on campus as I was in route to class. Suddenly, He was there. His presence was so tangible that I actually stopped walking completely. It was with divine clarity that the situation at hand was thrust before my eyes. Everything stopped.

You’ve been ignoring Me. You’ve been ignoring this. And here are all the ways that it is hurting you. You will stop.

I can’t describe what it was like to face what He wanted to show me. It was ugly. The details aren’t important to my point. My point is I denied Him. I got busy, I got complacent, and I took Him out of the picture because I didn’t like what He said. I committed the ultimate no-no: I “relied on my own understanding.” And the Sunday afterward, I gave it to Him straight:

I’m soooooo sorry.

I’ve been a believer a long time. I’ve heard things and know things about God’s discipline of His children. I’ve heard us try to understand it and make it easier for non-believers and new believers to swallow. The fact is we do them a great disservice in this. God’s discipline is sometimes bone crushing, and that fact is something we’re often shy about.

But His Word is quick to bring us back to reality. If you scour the texts on “discipline,” it’s almost overwhelming how many times it’s brought up. Now, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone in our experience of God finally taking us to task on something. But they’re quick to tell us not to ignore it. They’re also quick to tell us something far more powerful.

It’s from His love. He disciplines from His immense and immeasurable love for us.

Solomon says we’d be stupid to ignore His correction. I’ll tell you we’d be stupid to ignore the leanings that lead to a correction.

I thought about all of this as I sat and stretched my gaze into the horizon. They say His affection for us stretches more than the depth and expanse of the ocean. I was trying to swallow that unfathomable truth…

It’s just...so...much.

Kate Hightower is writing to you from the middle of her Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Thought pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville, where she is also a Byington Scholar. She’s an avid Bob Dylan fan, and can always be counted upon for decadent French cooking. And she’s madly in love with her giant, brilliant golden retriever, Stella.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , current students , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Among Us | Seminary Student Blogger

April 02, 2013

Kate Hightower 

We watched Thee here among us
Tender hands and thunderous eyes
Healed our every darkness
Which brought Thee to demise.

Thou spotless lamb among us
No wrong committed thus
We watched Thee hang and die there
So lost upon the cross.

The Father from above us
Was pleased to have Thee crushed
For me to breath eternal
And turn my accusers hushed.

Thou gracious Christ among us
Oh what joy when Thou rose
What glorious Death begotten
Defeat brought to Thy foes.

Hail Eternal King inside us
Breathing life into our bones
We’ll sing Thy song forever
No more our sorrow moans.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , biblically-grounded , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Caught | Seminary Student Blogger

March 05, 2013

Kate Hightower

He knew she was coming. He had been waiting around the city for it.

He could see them, somewhere in the back of His mind’s eye. Dragging her from her bed, knocking down the faceless man who would pick up his clothes and run from the rage of all of the city’s religious leaders and the mob they gathered. She watched him escape in the midst of the chaos with nothing left but the silver he came with. The feigned intimacy of the night before shattered in a moment like the breaking of glass.

She would die for it.

They yelled this as they drug her through the city, screaming obscenities and brandishing the stones of the Holy Law that they knew so well but didn’t quite understand.

He understood, though. He was there when it was written.

They shoved her ahead of them as they went, kicking her body now heavy with waves of terror, shame and despair shooting through her veins. They picked her back up again, their fingers digging into her soft, feminine skin barely clothed from the sin that now marked her. The sin that dehumanized her to no higher than some kind of diseased animal. The stones pounded her, brutal with the hatred of the force that bore them. They laughed as she cried out in agony, her blood staining the stone’s surfaces.

They were getting closer. He could hear them now. Just as He knew, they were bringing her to Him.

“Teacher!” they cried. “This woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”

It was a test. One He wasn’t blind to. Suddenly, His body grew heavy with the weight of the Mission. They could not imagine an eternity away from Their beloved creation, no matter how twisted with darkness it had become. He bent and drew in the sand before Him. Only His death would save them now... from everything and from themselves all at once.

Breaking His reverie, the mob persisted in their questioning. She watched Him, trembling and bleeding, waiting for His answer.

He stood, frustrated with their lack of understanding. The weight of the balance of the universe crushing His shoulders. It wasn’t just her, the obvious indiscretion. It was all of them. But there was only one truth in the midst of it...

He never wanted to be without them.

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

His words carried over the scene, laden with His thoughts and with His purpose. He bent again to the words in the sand he had left.

They dropped her before them. She crouched low and covered her head, the sound of the stones falling aimlessly out of the hands behind her filled her ears, echoing in her chest.

They left her there and dispersed.

He stood and watched her for a moment, remembering well the expanse of the life still trembling in front of Him, and the hopelessness that led her to this point.

“Woman,” he said. “Where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

Her eyes met His and she shook her head. “No one, Lord.”

“I do not condemn you either,” He told her as He offered His hand that would soon be scarred with a nail that would save them all.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

 

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A stunning re-telling of a beautiful story. The Holy wisdom and pure compassion of the Savior brought to life.
Mary Shelton 9:10AM 03/06/13

A State of Being: Unique | Seminary Student Blogger

February 12, 2013

Kate Hightower

I will never forget the first time I visited Greenwich Village in New York City. It’s got a ragged heartbeat that pounds beneath the street and vibrates up through your feet. Whispers of revolutions long-past carry through the breezes amongst the essence of fresh bread from that one bakery on Bleecker Street. Art was everywhere and in everyone I passed. At 21, I had never seen anything like it. Nor had I ever felt more at home. It was in one of the first few years that I really started to get into Bob Dylan that I was fortunate enough to visit the place that launched him into the world.

I love Bob Dylan.

He’s a restless, wandering genius. He’ll tell you that straight to your face, too. He’ll tell you there’s no one like him. He’ll tell you he was born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and he is simply a traveling troubadour, fulfilling his destiny before God takes him.

I swallowed this notion whole at a ripe age of 21. So fast that I didn’t even have a chance to see what it was that I’d be digesting. It has been dormant for years, suppressed by methods of my own design. But now, thanks to God’s skillful hand, this notion is beginning to take root somewhere in my soul. It holds up a mirror to my face as it begins to spread throughout my blood stream, it beats wildly, stunning me into a silence I recognize as an old friend, and yet someone I fear with all of my existence. Like a place I could never seem to find, but where I should have been all along. Someone or someplace that was robbed from me early, and I kept trying to get back to.

We’re all just trying to get home, to the house of our Father and bring as many people with us as we can.

As for Bob Dylan, he affected me so much so, that I feel better about the world knowing that he’s out there somewhere doing his thing, still existing, and still fascinating the masses. He’s like a giant, purple ink stain on art history. Even though his music is an acquired taste for most, he still manages to make everybody think. He’s mysterious enough to really make you scratch your head and wonder what he’s up to.

At 21, God used the musings of a legendary musician to show me it’s cool if you’re a little bit different than what everyone thinks you should be. For me, it’s been a life-long battle to finally accept who I was and stop trying to be everyone else. Now, I’m finally starting to really understand what that means.

We should always be making people think. We should all always be a little bit different.

I may still be enamored with the Old Testament, but in the name YHWH, God wasn’t messing around with the details. He told Israel exactly who he was in that name, and therefore painting a glorious picture for us. God’s presence in the name YHWH carries beautifully throughout the rest of the Old Testament when suddenly in a flash of Divine brilliance, it’s incarnated into a Man. The God-Man walked the earth and did the unthinkable...
...he died
...and came back.
...for love.

The world, to this day, really doesn’t know what to do with that. The only thing they have to go on is us. And we, as his followers, are charged with the task of reflecting the weight of that unspeakable magnitude.

We’re all supposed to be a little bit different.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Wow! Well thought out, well said ( very well said ) great message. So proud of you. Love you
Scarlett2050@gmail.com 2:24PM 02/14/13

Thoughts on Growing Pains | Seminary Student Blogger

December 04, 2012

Kate Hightower

When I saw it on Hotpads.com, I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was a gamble trying to find something in Atlantic Beach, Florida. But sure enough, there it was. On the higher range of the budget my best friend Alyssa and I agreed was appropriate for two college kids, but within our budget none-the-less. It was a lone listing, nothing around it on the map of places I was searching frantically in after God dealt me a hand in Orlando that I almost couldn’t handle. I drove two hours north to see if it was real, to look at the inside to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It was a beautiful little town home, tucked in about two miles north from the main drag in a community filled with mostly retirees and new families. The community property itself sat right on the ocean. I was stunned. It was as if He knew I would need a place to pace, to wrap my head around the unwelcome and unbidden storm that chased me there.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but Atlantic Beach comes second only to the incomparable Paris in my book. It’s lush, loamy and green beyond the cool of the sand dunes and the immense stretch of ocean. But beyond that, there’s a deep richness abiding steadily there beneath the beat of the waves. This timeless quality of the atmosphere filled my journals and jarred me with creativity. I would go to sleep at night with my windows open, listening to the roar of the waves and breathing in the remnants of a nearby cookout mixed with the Jasmine vines in full bloom.

This house quickly became my home. The kind of home feeling that sticks to your ribs. It became that for a lot of 20-somethings around the area; given that I had recently discovered a long-dormant love for cooking, we could always be counted upon for a day at the beach, dinner and a midnight hang out around a fire pit in the back with laughter, wine and S’mores abounding. I wasn’t blind to the romance in it. There is no other way I would have preferred spending my mid-twenties. It was those nights that I felt, in full, the vitality of my youth pounding in my veins.

After three years, though, we had to move. God moved us both onward, closer to the seminary, closer to work. I obeyed with a burdened heart. So burdened that Alyssa, myself, and our friends would frequent the private beach access up there long after we left as if it wasn’t over. Savoring the memories. Like it was still ours.

It was. Until that one morning I decided to take my dog down to the beach for a walk, and the private beach access gate was closed and boasting a shiny, new lock system with a combination one couldn’t begin to take a guess at. It ended there. It had ended in a flash, like a brilliant shooting star that had broken the gluey darkness with monumental, momentary glory. I stood there, watching the ocean on the other side, surrounded in darkness once more.

I turned then, loaded Stella back in the car, and made the long drive back to the apartment.

I couldn’t deny God here. The whole, “closes a door, opens a window” cliché seemed appropriate after facing the locked gate. He can always be counted upon for many things, but in this moment it was a staunch reminder of two in particular. One: He truly is the great Provider. Sometimes there are beautiful, splendid blessings. Blessings that come exactly as you need them, when you need them most. For me, that little house was a refuge in those formative years of your early-to-mid-twenties. I needed a place, right then, where I could shake my fist, kick my feet, praise, extol, cry and adore Him as I grew and experienced my life. His presence was palpable in that place. But there was a time when it had to end, which led me to my final thought. He always keeps us moving to remind us we are constantly capable of more than we think. The closed gate was an open door to the rest of the possibility in my life that I am too tiny and insignificant to pretend to comprehend.

While the holidays are the hardest time to be away from the little beach bungalow, it is undeniable in me how true He is to what He says. How He promises He sticks with us. How I have true proof that no matter how far away He felt sometimes, He never, ever left.

And as for any lingering homesickness or anxiety about the future, His shoulders are broad. His arms are outstretched. His fingers counting the time to the next step in His plan when He can show me more of His wonders again.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Beautifully written Very relatable
Mary Shelton 12:33PM 12/05/12

A Simple, Mind-Bending Choice | Seminary Student Blogger

November 01, 2012

Kate Hightower

Confession: when I’m stressed, I bake.

Endless baking. No discrimination, it’s all manners of baked goods. Anything from chocolate chip cookies to Julia Child’s Chocolate Almond Cake (A personal achievement in her massive volumes on French Cooking). My long time best friend and roommate knows when I’m working stuff out because there will be a plate of pumpkin muffins on the counter for the taking.

Needless to say, there has been a lot of baking going on in my house. It’s the heat of the semester, I’ve got a Hebrew midterm in two days and I just turned out a batch of double chocolate fudge cupcakes with cream cheese icing. What’s funny about this is you’d think I’d be eating everything I’m baking, following in line with the female stereotype of “stress eating.” Not the case. I’m actually a really healthy eater. But being a recovering anorexic, I learned a long time ago that the certainty and preciseness in cooking was perfect for those weeks when I’m really feeling out of control.

That feeling is tough to handle, especially at night when I go to stand before a God who is bigger than time. A God who, for all intents and purposes, I have actually wrestled so much with over the years that if he does decide to bless me with kids someday, I planned to name my first son Jacob as a testament to his unfailing persistence in my life. There have been moments in my faith where I’ve just come through a hurricane of a situation and I’ve stood, with red-eyes and tear-streaked cheeks, and demanded he account for his actions because he certainly had to have disappeared. Because no God of Love that I serve could possibly allow for such human torment and agony.

But if there is anything that I’ve figured out about him, it’s that he’s so beautifully unpredictable. And I’m so glad.

I’m so glad that he is so big, and full of light that he overwhelms my dark, sad little perspective on things. I’m so glad that I’m not in charge of this tumultuous universe because when it goes “south” so to speak, I tend to believe that it stays that way. That it’s the end of the symphony instead of merely a transition into a crescendo.

But where there is gratitude, there is also a choice. It’s a choice that I knew in my head but hardly settled into my “heart-knowledge” until recently. Do I trust him? Do I believe, even when I don’t understand? Do I hold onto what he has told me and know that as I wade my way through this life I know, truly, that he will never, ever leave me?

Ashamedly, I admit there have been so many times where I have allowed darkness to settle in. I’ve allowed a happening, or even an outcome of a situation, to make me bitter and pull me away from God. I’ve gone into this numb-Christian mode where I tell everyone I’m great on the outside, but inside I’m aching.

But I had a sharp reminder recently of the reality of God’s presence at any point in my existence, that whatever has happened, it always could have been so much worse. Satan is looking for total annihilation and knows exactly what hurts me the most and how much it could take me down. After all this time, the fact that I’m breathing at all, points to a Presence so grand in scale that one often cannot say anything at all about him. The fact that I am still capable of giving and receiving love points to a Victory beyond measure.

He was there in the beginning. But don’t you dare try to predict him because he’ll blow you out of the water.

Trust me.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger

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COMMENTS

Introspective...yes! Nerd...no way!
Dan 4:00AM 11/02/12
Yes. Insight, timing, perspective, depth, .......yes, yes, yes and yes
Mary Shelton 11:16AM 11/01/12

Intimacy, the Old Testament, and Finding Light in the Dark | Seminary Student Blogger

September 27, 2012

Kate Hightower

I just finished my first Biblical Hebrew class this past weekend.

And I’m hooked.

I am completely entrenched in the Old Testament this semester. It has an unparalleled magic that often gets overlooked on a regular day. This is an unfortunate phenomenon given how clearly the character of God is revealed here in the early days of Scripture. God wasn’t being coy when he brought his precious Israelites out of Egypt and into his care; he made sure they knew who exactly it was that they were dealing with. Though their relationship would be tumultuous through the next generations and even up to today, the mutual tenderness from the days of old has remained deeply rooted in the hearts of the people and those that followed after.

This is an intimacy that strikes me square in my chest every time I hear about it. The power of it, its ability to affect deeply, those who learn of it comes only from the self-sustaining, all-knowing Father wishing to show us more of himself.

It’s something we can only hope to have a glimpse of while we’re here.

In light of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend I had a few years ago. We attended the same church at the time, and were in the same discipleship group. Looking around the room in my mind, there wasn’t a twenty-something piled on those couches that wasn’t bringing the weight of the world to our Thursday night meetings, and my friend was no different.

She was slowly losing her dad to a malignant brain tumor.

Our discipleship group was a second family for all of us. I would say we were among those in her life praying the hardest for a miraculous healing. As the weeks passed, we watched his condition continue to decline. For a girl in her early twenties, we all knew this was about to be world-shattering. Things were already starting to crumble.

There was one last surgery. Seemingly endless hours in the operating room. It had been a long, brutal day for a man weakened already from the long months of the fight for his life. It was late when he got back to his hospital room. The family had gone to get something to eat while they waited; except my friend, who slept quietly in the recliner next to his bed. The monitors beeping proof of life into the silence of the dark room. He would sleep. She would sleep too.

Suddenly, she awoke to stirring. She sat up quickly, worried something was happening to him. She turned to find him getting up, pain hitching his breathing as he squeezed into the chair with her.

“Dad... what’s wrong? Are you ok?”
“It’s ok. I just want to hold you.”

He passed a few days later. I attended the reception for his funeral, and stories much like this one were told to remember a man who loved his family with everything he had until there was nothing left of him. She wrestled with his passing in the days to come. I remember she shared a journal entry with us that was heavy with grief. But toward the end, a revelation:

The presence of God is thick in my room right now.

This had such a profound effect on me. The beginning of the journal entry had been so tormented with such a devastating loss. She had never been one to express herself like this. She brought us into the darkness of her room that night; how the love of the most important man in her life was now gone.

But then, in the midst of the dark, the Father of Light made himself so unmistakably present. He didn’t take away the grief. He was there with her in the midst of it. Such a timely, beautiful interruption and presentation of everlasting intimacy.

Much like the Israelites sustained in the desert by a loving God, we glean unexplainable strength from moments like these that keep us going.

We can’t miss this.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger

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COMMENTS

Beautiful story, beautifully told. Comforting and inspiring
Scarlett 2050@gmail.com 1:12PM 09/30/12

Morning View | Seminary Student Blogger

August 28, 2012

Kate Hightower

I'm beginning to love mornings.

I'm a Hightower. I come from a long line of 'morning people.' I may not come out of my room singing, but I'm still taking plenty of shots from my long-time roommate who was born and raised a night owl and who would just as soon sleep the day's beginning right away.

These days, that's not for me.

I wake up just to feel the air of possibility. The season change helps. The promise of cooler temperatures always makes everything pretty and sparkling. But there really is something magic about the soft silver glow seeping through the trees outside my window, up in through the blinds and into my room. I let the big smiling face of my golden retriever out of her crate and head out to the kitchen to work on breakfast. She doesn't really know what to make of my new "early-start" fascinations either. But she's proving to be far more obliging than the other occupant of the house.

My absolute favorite part of the morning is my commute to the GCTS campus downtown. Best 15 minutes of the day. Slipping into the long, winding snakes of traffic on I-95 means the one bend that gives a panoramic view of the Jacksonville skyline splashed in the brilliant orange of the new day. If I hit that bend at just the right point of a good song, my surroundings crescendo and send an electric surge of energy down my spine. This is a beginning. This is possibility at its finest.

I need these moments. They’re good moments. In the midst of overwhelming and rapid spiritual, intellectual and sometimes emotional growth, these things press in and come as delightful surprises. I would like to think it’s my body’s natural way of telling me that God is still turning the world even though He feels pretty far off these days.

One of my small group members says that feeling means He’s closer than I think. Closer than He’s probably ever been. That really got me thinking.

The noise of my day has gotten too loud. The voices are too many. The task at hand has turned into the task of all. No matter how many faces I’m around. No matter how busy I may be. I’m drying out. The King of Love is slowly putting on the brakes to the point of starvation for something more.

Something heavier.

“I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and slay her with thirst.” (Hosea 2:3)

He’s breathtakingly explicit in Hosea 2.

He’ll get us back.

The entire passage involves a break down and a restoration in intimate detail. But that’s how He works. He gets in close and makes you shiver, even when you sometimes wish He wouldn’t.

I have to start listening. My new morning fascination makes the perfect amount of room for tuning into the Presence that calls the rain, bends the mountains and silences the lions. And praying for the grace that maybe a fraction of that Presence might seep down into my bones.

This is true beginning.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A wonderful description of His presence and how He weaves the beauty of His creation all around, if we will just see.
Mary Shelton 10:46AM 08/28/12

Introducing Kate Hightower: Seminary Student Blogger

August 07, 2012

We are excited to introduce you to one of our new student bloggers, Kate Hightower! Kate is an Master of Divinity student at our Jacksonville campus. Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Kate!

Name: Kate Hightower

Degree: Master of Divinity

Hometown: Ocala, FL

Where were you before seminary? Avoiding it. :) I heard whispers of getting into ministry in the latter half of my college years but the idea scared me to death. So upon graduating from the University of Central Florida, I tucked away in a little jewel of a house in Atlantic Beach, determined to give myself time to write. I had a story idea I wanted to give legs to and I wanted to regain my free-spirited ways after the drudgery of my undergraduate years. After two years of being a certifiable hermit, only coming up for air for work and church, God stepped in. He firmly informed me I was thinking too small, and shot me back into the world. When I opened my eyes after all that, all I could see was seminary and a world that needed to see Love move.

Favorite hobbies? writing, reading, painting, cooking

Favorite food? My dad makes the best fried fish sandwich on the planet. And anything at Sun Dog diner here in Neptune Beach. It’s a local legend and a place I frequented during the years I was writing pre-seminary.

Favorite hero of the Christian faith? St. Teresa of Avila and Soren Kierkegaard are my current shoulder angels. They kick me in the teeth when I get too hard on myself.

Favorite book? In no particular order: 1) Lord of the Rings trilogy (no one in the world writes like Tolkien did...that guy dove head-first into Middle Earth and managed to record his journey for us. There’s been nothing since then of that caliber.) 2) Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. 3) The book of Isaiah. 4) Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, (Undeniable, unshakable brilliance.)

Interesting fact about yourself? I’m a closet comic book fan with a secret ambition to attend Comic Con someday. ;)

Issues you are passionate about? redemption, theology of creativity, hunger

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , student blogger

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Did not know many things about you ! Well said. Look forward the blog. Cute picture :). Proud of you
Mary Shelton 3:15PM 08/08/12

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