Today, Katrina speaks to us about the distinction between virginity and purity, birthday letters to Jesus, Dangerous Prayers and how this pandemic season has helped her grow spiritually.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a close-knit family of four in Charlotte, NC. My parents are in ministry and served tirelessly in our church and in our community. My father is very big on Truth: What’s true? How do you find truth? How do you recognize truth? They cultivated a Christ-centered home where I grew to know a myriad of Scripture and was involved in church life and Bible study. My familiarity with the Word became my religion. I honestly thought I was saved, but ironically, the truth was that I wasn’t.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “If our hearts trouble us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” 1 John 3:20
This scripture has meant so much to me. I’m just holding onto it, leaning into it and proclaiming it over my life on a daily basis. It’s been so soothing, because I am one who often questions if my intentions are understood or if my heart is where it needs to be. Knowing that God is greater than my heart is so freeing and healing! Even if I am misunderstood, wrong or even guilty, His love over me is greater and He knows everything!
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I’m currently leading a study on wisdom through the lense of Proverbs. Focusing on wisdom is such an imperative concept in the Christian life, because wisdom is only attainable through the Holy Spirit, who leads us in the way of righteousness through Jesus. This world has so many suggestions, requirements, temptations and deceptions. Without being led by God’s wisdom, there is no way we can sort through all the lies and distractions that lie in the way of us being obedient to the Lord. Wisdom is the girl, and she’s who I am opening my heart to, every day, to be guided and developed into the woman Christ is calling me to be!
Profession: I have a 10-year career in the Fashion Industry as a print and runway model. I now coach emerging models in my area in my spare time. I am also a higher education teacher by trade, but currently working for my church in administration and event planning and I’m a published author of the book, Beyond Being Good: Seeking Christ’s Perfection for Our Imperfect Hearts.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Loved is the New Perfect.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I first encountered the love of God in college. I was living a partying lifestyle while holding onto self -righteousness. I was practicing abstinence, but compromising in my dating relationships and fell into hypocrisy. I was lukewarm: living a double life and feeling ashamed all the time. I knew scripture, but I didn’t know Jesus. He used a girl in my dorm to show me that Christianity wasn’t about how much I knew about God, it was truly about knowing God through an intimate relationship with Jesus. It required obedience and application, not just familiarity. I was terrified, but I was tired of the shame. The guy I was dating at the time had a tragic confrontation that ended in his death. This was the wake up call I needed to begin drawing closer to the Lord.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I am truthfully not the same person I used to be. Before Jesus, life was about me. Life was about lying to look better than I really was. It was about looking good to others and people pleasing to combat my loneliness. I made so many compromises in the name of “friendship”, I began to lose myself, re-create myself and just started drowning in the lies that I told myself. I was unsatisfied with my life, but too much of a coward to live any differently. I enjoyed the attention fashion gave me and the opportunities popularity provided for me on my college campus, but I felt misunderstood, unknown for who I truly was and very empty and lost.
When Jesus came, He replaced all of my efforts with all of His gifts! He sent friends my way who loved me for me and didn’t want anything from me, except my trust. He connected me with a man who didn’t show me off or push my limits or make fun of me. That man later became my husband and His influence has been very pivotal in my walk with Christ.
Salvation also gave me a heart for people. Instead of looking for how someone could benefit me (will they make me look good? could they help connect me to other people who could aid in my success?), I began to develop an interest into the heart of people and this produced a desire to become an encourager of people. I was always a people person – desiring to please and be liked and noticed; but know I am a people lover – desiring to encourage others, pray with them and point them to Jesus!
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? COVID-19 has been a true push for me to grow spiritually. There are lots of distractions in a house that you never leave. There are chores that you didn’t notice before that need to be tackled. Talking on the phone is more frequent and social media is more readily available. I’ve had to admit some difficult truths to myself that I was using Godly things (family, friends, books and resources) as a substitution for spending devoted and intimate time with Jesus. Pausing from the daily routine opened up space for me to recognize that my heart’s desire was on things pertaining to the Lord, and not so much on the Lord, Himself. It’s been a challenge to admit this to myself every time I’ve reached for my phone or for a book on Christian topics or read a Christian based article instead of opening my Bible and taking time to spend with the Lord. I’m thankful for that conviction, though. It shows me that God is working in me and that I am still in the process of becoming.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Just read Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel. It has been so challenging, and I love the fluidity of his writing style. It’s written like a conversation, where he shares stories and leaves you pondering your own thoughts and willingness towards obedience. What I took away from his book was that, in order to be used by God, I have to be willing to be open to all that God may have in store for me without offering Him my list of things that I’d prefer He not ask me to do!
Top three essentials: My wedding ring. I adore it, and I adore the man who gave it to me.
My laptop- where all my writing and blogging are made possible, plus access to other resources like podcasts, scriptures at your fingertips and online shopping!
My coffee frother, because I am a girl who loves creamy cappuccinos!
How did God speak to you recently? I am in a season of rebuilding a very dysfunctional relationship with someone. We recently had a sit down, of which I invited the Lord to only allow me to speak what He would have me say and to help me deny myself. A few days after the conversation, all these thoughts and points that I didn’t express came rushing through my head and I grew frustrated with myself that I didn’t take the opportunity to defend myself and to expose the person’s wrong doings more adamantly. I could feel unforgiveness rising in me; but the Holy Spirit stepped in (and keeps stepping in) to remind me that I spoke only what He wanted me to say, because that’s what I asked of Him, and that relationship is more valuable than rectification. He is teaching me that grace lets things go and that love will bind, but blame will separate. Christ is teaching me that if I want to truly live like Him, I must love like Him and that means refusing the urge to absolve myself and seek personal justification.
“He is teaching me that grace lets things go and that love will bind, but blame will separate.”
Hobby: I have lots of hobbies! I write, sing, scrapbook, bake, finger paint with my little ones and buy shoes! Yes, buying shoes is a hobby. It really is!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: 1) The first advice I would give is to read and pray. I put these together, because it’s exactly like inhaling and exhaling. If you want to live, you must do both. They are one in the same. Reading your Bible and then praying over what you’ve read is essential in the process of becoming more spiritually mature, aware and sensitive.
2) Build community with those who are also in devoted pursuit of God. Friendship is so influential in our lives, no matter our stage or season of growth. It’s immature to think that we can surround ourselves with people who are focused in an opposite direction of Christ and not be swayed by their lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have unbelieving friends, because we certainly want to be a light, but Proverbs teaches us to be very careful with the company we keep because, ultimately, we are responsible for selecting those who influence us (Proverbs 13:20). In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone who quotes a scripture or goes to church is a good spiritual influence. Look for friends and mentors who are living and making decisions that are undeniably Christ centered.
3) My last advice for staying spiritually strong is to develop a heart that desires and respects correction because this will challenge you to grow (Proverbs 12:1; Proverbs 15:32). The Holy Spirit brings conviction which is a form of correction and we need to align our hearts to see that this is a form of love. Other spiritual people in our lives may be led by the Holy Spirit to correct us, as well. Getting offended is prideful, especially if the correction is encouraging you to make a change that will be spiritually beneficial to you and draw you closer to the Lord. I know we live in a society that doesn’t want to be told they are wrong. “Our truths”, is code for, “Let me live my life my way”, but this attitude will not propel us into deeper spiritual growth, nor will it develop into application of scripture or in our ability to shine brightly for Christ.
“Read and pray. I put these together, because it’s exactly like inhaling and exhaling. If you want to live, you must do both.”
Favorite person in scripture? Hands down, Jael (Yah-El). We named our youngest daughter after her. I liken Jael to King David because she was righteously offended by those who defied God. During a battle, the army of Israel was fearful of their enemies and were timid to engage them in battle. Jael was annoyed by their lack of faith, so she took the battle into her own hands and brutally killed the King of their enemies by sneaking into his tent while he was sleeping and drove a tent peg into his head with a hammer! She knew God had given Israel the victory. The Israelite Judge, Deborah, wrote a song for her to commemorate her courage and declared that her faith made her the most blessed among all women!
“Most blessed of all women be Jael” – Judges 5:1. You can find her entire victory story in Judges 4.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? When people look at me, I want them to see a person who declares her imperfections with honesty and points to Jesus by the way I love others and offer grace.
How do you engage with your community? I engage with my community through podcasts, social media and my blog. I enjoy providing a walk through one chapter of scripture each morning on my Instagram stories, providing free devotionals and articles on my website, and cheering others on to live courageously, through my book, Beyond Being Good. I’ve also found that coaching models, some of whom have difficult self images, has become another opportunity to share the love of Jesus and practical encouragement.
Favorite holiday? So … I’m learning about Advent. It wasn’t something that I grew up participating in. As a family, we celebrated Advent for the first time last year, 2019, and the peace that comes from intentionally incorporating the character of Christ during the Christmas season was so beautiful! It’s become my new favorite tradition during my favorite holiday, which is obviously Christmas.
A goal you have? I feel led to speak to women. I’ve enjoyed the podcasts that I’ve guested on, and I’ve also enjoyed speaking at my church, but it would be so amazing to be a guest at a women’s conference one day and just pour into women and encourage them in their journey with Jesus!
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Since my birth, my family has written birthday letters to Jesus. It’s a way of summing up our year to give thanks for what God has done! Every Christmas, we write new letters and read one from the past. I love pulling out old letters I wrote in my childhood; particularly the ones when I was under 10 years old. I couldn’t spell very well! It’s funny to read what was important to me back then!
Things you want to raise awareness about: I feel very passionate about raising awareness concerning the difference between virginity and purity. It’s such a taboo topic in the church and many people don’t know how to navigate celibacy or abstinence in their relationships as well as in their personal experiences. There is a false belief that virginity is impossible or that those who remain virgins until marriage are super spiritual and closer to God, but this just isn’t true. Virginity is very possible, but it isn’t synonymous with purity. They are two different things. You can be a virgin and still live an impure life. Virginity is physical but purity is spiritual, and it’s a pure heart that God desires from us and only God can give to us. I think this is a principle that so many of us need to understand and embrace in order to enjoy more of The Lord’s abundance in our lives and relationships.
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine consists of praying with my children, making breakfast, answering emails and DM’s from people who are looking for scriptures or encouragement and talking to my mom. Afterwards, I read and play with my girls and enjoy coffee with my husband, Jarrett. It’s a simple routine.
What is on your nightstand? A picture of my husband and I, a lamp, these gorgeous faux pink roses I bought on sale, my phone charger, my current read and chocolate. Yes, I keep chocolate stocked and close beside me!
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is the perfect love of Jesus at work in imperfect people.
For more Katrina:
Book: Beyond Being Good: Seeking Christ’s Perfection for Our Imperfect Hearts (Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Christianbooks.com)
Until next time, keep witnessing!