where are your sons?

It was a precious question from a curious boy that caught me totally off guard on a sunny afternoon.

“Like, children?”
“Yeah, where are they?”
“Well, I don’t have any yet…”

This sweet moment of curiosity that led to this miniBFF affirming that he would, in fact, be friends with my sons when I have them, but he would also be older than them so we would have to establish that once they could understand, but not when they were babies because babies can’t understand…(this is a runon sentence isn’t it…)

This moment led to a deeper moment about hope.

His mom and I got to talk with him about how I want to marry someone that loves God and wants to do what God says is right. That I want to marry someone who is kind to me and encourages me. And that if he knows of anyone, hook ya gurl up.

He also noted that I probably couldn’t marry his dad. Which is correct. That would be weird.

As he went back to chilling in the sunny April afternoon, his mom and I went in on hope.

How terrible and necessary and terribly necessary it is.
How we can’t live without it, but living with it means opening yourself up to the possibility of earth shattering heartbreak.

Yet.

The hope we have does not put us to shame.
The hope that we have can never be taken away.
The hope that we have is kept in heaven, unfading and undefiled for us.

As someone who walked close by as the thing I hoped for escaped me, she knows how tricky my relationship with hope is.

I don’t like that is necessary.
But I know it’s the only thing I have.
Hope that God is a God of redemption and restoration and resurrection.
Hope that all things will be made new.
Hope that someday I will have a husband and children, so that my miniBFF can have some younger friends to remind how old he is.

On a recent episode of Coffee with Kailey, Annie F. Downs says this about hope: “I’d rather die full of hope and the Lord and I have to look each other in the eyes and be like, ‘Who’s holding this one?’ I would rather be full of hope until the end – which you have to fight for and you have to choose – than to go, ‘You know what, forget it I’m not going to want anymore. Because when you stop wanting food is when you lose nutrition and nutrients and your body wastes away. When we stop our desires, we actually don’t get healthy, we get emaciated. And I can’t do that to my hope. So we’re going to keep feeding hope.”

And that’s it.

I don’t always want to hope. Because it hurts. Anyone who has actually hoped for something and not gotten it will tell you it capital H hurts.

But pretending that I don’t have hope.
Putting my desires in a box that I never intend to open while they gather dust and waste away.

That will kill me.

As Annie said, I’d rather die full of hope and deal with it for all of eternity in the presence of my redemptive Savior than spend my life wasting away.

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the light house

I like to name things. My first car, a 1996 Chevy Monte Carlo, was appropriately named Bernice by my high school friends and every car since has been blessed by a name that most certainly fits her personality. Yes, they’re all ladies. ‘Cause who run the world? Girls. Duh.

And I like to name the places I’ve lived that have not been owned by my parents or universities.

We’ve had 67 David, the Thrifty Apartment, and the House on Winona.

I’ve been in my current living space for over 3 years and have never been able to land on a name that felt right, until recently.

I give you, The Light House.

I took this picture one morning while sipping on my coffee. I’ve sat in this exact spot many times over the last 38 months, but it wasn’t until month 37 when someone else called out the light pouring in that I began to realize just how much light truly pours in.

If there’s one thing that’s not a secret about me, it’s that I deeply value my friendships. I don’t know how to live life alone. Which is a good thing, because I can often slip into the lie that I am, indeed, living life alone. It’s easy for the enemy to gently remind me that at the end of the day I fall asleep by myself. I make meals for myself. There isn’t a spouse/roommate/sibling/etc around to casually have eyes on me in the mundane space of life to make sure I’m okay. Taken at face value, it makes sense that I would feel alone. That things would feel dark, bleak, and well, sad.

But that’s where the Light shows up.

I got this image tattooed on my body – where one gets tattoos – at the end of a really weird and hard season:

It’s a form of prayer called visio divina – divine seeing. The artist, Scott Erickson, has this caption on his Instagram: “May I be gifted with loved ones who remember who I am when I forget; because I will forget.”

And that’s what the enemy forgets about. The father of lies forgets about the Father of Truth. He forgets about the people of God that come in with the Light of Christ to reignite my truer identity.

The identity of friend.
Of sister.
Of Beloved.


Month 37 in the previously unnamed Light House, my friend sat on my couch as I unleashed scenarios that were ripping at my core, trying their best to dim the Light. As she prayed, she said, “God, I’m just now noticing the light that is pouring into this place…”

And that’s when I began to realize that all these months, all these years, all these days spent confused and muddling around have actually been time spent of Light just pouring into this place.

God has been in the business of exposing darkness.
Of literally and figuratively pouring out His Light into the space that I inhabit.

It really hit me the next morning when I woke up and noticed His actual sunlight pouring over the list of prayers I had written out for 2022, hanging in my bedroom:

It’s not lost on me that a tattoo I got a year and a half ago is literally a bunch of candles re-lighting the center candle.
It’s not lost on me that no matter what time of day, rays of sunshine can be seen illuminating my home.
It’s not lost on me that the ones who remind me who I am when I forget are anchored into the true source of Light – Jesus – and are unwilling to let me forget that my anchor holds strong in Him as well.


John 8:12 says, “Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.'”

This is all I have.

Light.

Darkness has done it’s finest work to try to snuff it out, but no matter what, the sun rises and light pours in.

And also Light pours in.

So, this is The Light House.

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2021 – the year of abundance

It’s time for a word-of-the-year recap! The only consistency this blog has offered in the last 3 years!

2021 saw me leave behind hope in an effort to move forward with abundance. 2021 was going to be the year that I watched God grow up out of the ground all of the things we had been planting together over the last few years. It was going to be the year that I asked, of every person/situation/choice/etc, “Is this life or death? Because if it’s death, I want nothing to do with it.”

The verse that I sat with for 365 days (2021 wasn’t a leap year, right?) was John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

I said to myself over-and-over again…

iykyk

“Is this trying to steal, kill, or destroy? Or is this bringing me life?”
One is from the thief.
One is from Jesus.

And if it’s from Jesus, abundance will follow.

The tricky thing for my heart in leaning in to that line of thinking was/is – does declaring something as God’s abundance mean that I think He is some kind of genie? That all along it’s just been up to me to ‘name it and claim it’? All God has been waiting for was for me to say some magical word and then He would open the floodgates of heaven?

Youth group worship song session, anyone?

I used to think that abundance would have to show up as grand, big, and uncontainable. But it doesn’t. Turns out, God’s abundance – the kind of life giving abundance that Jesus came to give to His people – found it’s way in to my life in really small, ordinary, what some might call mundane things.

His abundance was found in a condo with friends making homemade birthday potstickers.
His abundance was found in a new pair of cycling shoes.
His abundance was found in my nephew seeing himself as Iron Man on a poster for his third birthday and losing his mind in the best of ways.
His abundance was found in weeping on friends couches because I’d been delighting myself in the Lord for so long and yet He had not given me the desires of my heart and nothing makes sense anymore.
His abundance was found in a vacation in the mountains with my family.
His abundance was found in a thousand small ways that prior to this year I would have never given Him credit for.

The thing I learned from this year is that I need to keep asking, “Is this trying to steal, kill, or destroy? Or is this trying to give me life?”
Because if it’s life, it’s from Jesus.
And if it’s from Jesus, abundance will follow.

And if simple life from Jesus is all the abundance I ever get, I think I’ll be set.

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psalm 37

It’s a really good thing this isn’t my full-time job because I would be broke.

#inconsistent

Yet here I am again. Psalm 37. One of the most improperly used verses of my life come from this psalm. So gird yourselves friends. I could get a lil saucey.

For actual context, this psalm is a wisdom meditation. It’s more like a proverb – not a promise. A guide for living that will increase your chances for living in the midst of God’s flourishing.

But for those of us that grew up with Bible verses plastered to t-shirts and posters in youth rooms, we got a nice little nugget from this one that, for me at least, really distorted how I viewed God and what walking through life with Him meant:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV, for youth group throwback purposes)

Teenage Kayla was taught that all she had to do was take great delight in the Lord and she would get everything she ever wanted. 20 year old Kayla remembers vividly a night in her dorm room, weeping because she had just broken up with a boy for the 17th time in the midst of an on-again-off-again relationship, confused because she thought she was delighting in the Lord, yet she wasn’t getting anything she wanted. Even now I have to intentionally fight against the urge to believe that I’m just not delighting enough in the Lord and that’s why I don’t have the desires of my heart.

What so many of us miss with this psalm is, well, the rest of it.

This psalm does a beautiful job of showing us that it is better to stay loyal to the Lord – to live with loyalty that is expressed in contentment, honesty, and generosity that finds its roots in Him. And what God does with that, in His own good, perfect time, is make a clear distinction between the godless and the faithful.

The faithful must wait. Patiently.
And they will receive the desires of their heart.
And their desire will be for the Lord, not for a better job, a spouse, a [fill in the blank here].

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37:18-19, 23-24

What teenage, 20 year old, and present day Kayla need to hear is that the Lord delights in her. He takes her by the hand. He walks with her in the good days, the frustrating days, the sad days, and the days that are overflowing with joy.

His love and blessing is not contingent on what she offers Him.
His love and blessing is not contingent on her delight meter on a random Wednesday.
His love and blessing is contingent on His faithfulness and love toward His people, of whom she is apart of.

The promise of God offered to His people in this psalm is that they will find shelter in Him.

And honestly, that’s the deepest desire my heart could ever long for.

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graphs on twitter

Scrolling Twitter is one of my guilty pleasures. Except I don’t really feel that guilty about it. I find it to be the place where I am my truest internet self. It’s also a fun way to connect with people and find out fun new information from sources you get to curate yourself – not sources you feel obligated to follow/friend because they were your VBS teacher in 3rd grade. Hypothetically speaking.

Last week during a scrolling sesh, I came across a very colorful graph with some commentary by the son of one of my favorite humans IRL. Here’s the image:

And the commentary quoted along with it: “If this data is true, the Church needs to do a much, MUCH better job loving/encouraging/walking alongside single and unmarried young adults.”

(Side note: everyone should follow @CalebABobo on Twitter. His only flaw is that he’s a Patriots fan.)

And he’s not wrong. Take an actual look at those numbers. This data (to my knowledge – and I did not work very hard to verify that) has nothing to do with Christians. It has everything to do with marital status. Across the board, men and women that are non-married are sad, dissatisfied, and are drinking a lot. **she types as she puts her glass down on a coaster…**

And according to these numbers, women aren’t blowing the men out of the water on this. This is not a “women are just too eager to get married and put too much weight on that institution” situation. We are all struggling with not being married. Even those that are living with their partner are still sad, dissatisfied, and are drinking a lot.

So, where does the Church come in? Why would Caleb say such a thing? And why would I get so fired up and only be able to reply tweet with: “I have so many thoughts to say about this, but I think it would require a longer format and a beer. Which kind of proves the point.”

Because my guess is that these numbers wouldn’t be that different if all adults surveyed also said they were followers of Jesus.

If you go back to the start of this blog – all the way back to the dark ages of 2014 – you will see that it started as a way for me to offer some new conversations around singleness in the Church. I got (and still get) so fed up with churches and Christians making the point of everyone’s life to be married. It grieves my heart that so many ‘fringe people’ (those that don’t really know me) can only have a conversation about my dating life, or what it’s like to be single in my 30s (CAUSE I’M A UNICORN APPARENTLY).

Marriage = value. Perceived and projected.

And when we’re not married, we get forgotten about.

Sermons aren’t preached with us in mind.
Dinners aren’t hosted with us in mind.
Bible studies aren’t written with us in mind.
Summer vacations aren’t planned with bringing us along in mind.

So, instead of burdening others with our “neediness” we stay home. We subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, AND Disney+. We have 6 different types of alcohol at our disposal at all times cause, well, it’s a hobby and it tastes good, and it’s really not a problem, promise.

And no one knows because we’re alone.
And no one knows because they don’t ask.
And no one knows because they don’t show up.

So what’s a Church to do?!

Don’t forget about us.

I often forget that I am, actually, a bit of a unicorn. I write emails to elders reminding them to teach about singleness just as much as they teach about marriage. I co-lead a small group at my church and have a lot of things to say about being the family of God, not just a group of ‘individual’ families. I have soul-friends that I weep with because I am just so sad, and they weep along with me.

From my experience, loving/encouraging/walking alongside single and unmarried young adults is not hard. You just have to show up and remind them that they bring just as much to the table as any other image bearer of God in your circle does.

And if you’re a single/unmarried young adult, put yourself in other people’s way. YOU show up too!

There’s no formula to apply that will take these stats in a healthy direction, but there is a slow, steady, faithful process that we can all enter in to, that would hopefully, by God’s grace cause an upward turn – see God in others and show up.

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