Author Archives: kayla

share service 2018

Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my church hosts what we call our Share Service. Instead of having a service at 9am & 11am, we all come together to worship at 10am and have the opportunity to get up in front of one another and share how God has moved in our lives, and how Refuge has been a part of that movement. It’s like the church version of Open Mic. ‘Cept the comedy comes from the kids that say the most honest, raw things and there’s no cover charge for getting in or 2 drink minimum. Although we do have coffee and drinking it is encouraged.

I digress. 

This year’s Share Service may have been my most favorite one yet. 

I’ve been attending my church for 8 years and – to my recollection – I have yet to sit through more vulnerability from so many different people. I witnessed people share laughter, tears, heartbreak, and praise – all pointing to the Faithful One who carries and sustains us all. 

After church, I went to lunch with some friends and said to them, “I feel like for so long, so many people have been longing for community in our church. They want it but haven’t been able to figure out where to start – or maybe not even sure if anyone else around the church wants it as much as they do. This morning, so many people shared that they not only want community, but have found it.”

My heart grew so many sizes as one person after another walked to the front – shaky voices, sweaty palms and all – sharing that they experienced God showing up for them through the lives of the people around them. I mean, could you ask for anything more?! 

Maybe my most favorite thing said, that brought me to tears in an instant, was one person’s heartfelt closing: “Thank you for letting us be known here.”

I mean. Come. On.

That is one of the many reasons why I love my church.

I didn’t have the brain space to get up and share in front of my church. Also because sometimes when I have a microphone I can get a little too…shall we say…expository…

But if I had gotten up to share, here’s what I would’ve said:
• I am grateful that God has chosen to name me His Beloved through His Son, Jesus.
• I am grateful that God has placed me in the church He has, to see His people bear His name and pursue Jesus in such a way that the darkness has no place among us.
• I am grateful for a church that listens to the voice of women, allows women to lead, has men that stand in front of women to protect them yet also stand behind women to push them toward who Jesus has made them to be. 
• I am grateful for friends – both in and out of my church – that call me to grace and mercy and are not willing to let me push Jesus away, but rather push me closer to Him.
• I am grateful that God has given me deep, rich, life-giving relationships that fill the desires of my heart in the most unique ways – ways I would have never imagined, yet are perfect for who I am and where I am in my life right now.
• I am grateful for a faithful God that never gives up on an often faithless Bride.
• I am also grateful for friends that don’t let me continue living life in the dark by giving me their favorite books to read and forcing me to watch their favorite movies. Most of which I am rightfully ashamed of myself for never having read/seen to begin with.

I could go on and on, but this feels like it hits the high notes. 

The whole point is – I have much to share and much to be grateful for. At the tail end of a predominately difficult year, it was so good for my heart to hear the stories of people I’m in a church family with, and in turn be reminded of my God who is, and has been, so kind and faithful to me. 


Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

take & eat

take & eat.png

I’m not sure if I’m focused on this concept because I’m hungry or what, but here we go.

I often forget that the enemy never has the upper hand.

I’m in the middle of a season of crap. Just grey, dreary crap. And it’s not just me, but those I love are in the middle of crap too. It has, simply put, been a really weary season in a lot of different ways.

I have seen up close & personal that the enemy comes only to steal and kill and destroy. And – especially in isolation –  I forget the rest of the story. That Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly.

I love the way Jesus sets it up in John 10:10 – “the enemy does that, I do this.”

Jesus steps in and flips the script on what satan is trying to accomplish.

Which brings me to: “take & eat.”

In Genesis 3, we read about the serpent tempting Eve. He taunts her with, “Did God actually say…” – manipulating God’s truth and planting doubt in Eve’s mind. And she falls for it. The enemy essentially says, “Take and eat. You’ll be fine! God just doesn’t want you to eat this fruit because you’ll be like Him. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to be your own god?”

So, she takes & eats.
And so does Adam.

And in comes brokenness and disobedience and shame and separation from the Holy One who created them.

The enemy does that.

Then Jesus does this:

And when the hour came, he [Jesus] reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-20

Jesus’ invitation to His disciples: take & eat.

He redeemed that which the enemy marred.
He took the invitation that ushered in death and remade it into an invitation that brings life.
He made the meal and the invitation new.

And guess what?

He’s going to do it again.

When Christ returns – just as He said He would – and sets all things right, we’re going to have another meal together.

I imagine being at the marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus standing at the head of the table with a glass raised high, arms outstretched and declaring to all in attendance, “Take & eat.”

It makes me weepy thinking about how God is actively making all that the enemy has broken new and whole once again. How even in the middle of what feels like death, satan still doesn’t have the upper hand.

All of the crap, all of the weariness, is being pierced with light and given fresh life. The season is being restored, whether I can see it happening in the here & now or not.

It is.
Jesus is still in the business of giving life and giving it abundantly.
He is still flipping the script on the lies the serpent tries to tell His people.

The bread might be dry, and the wine a little bitter, but the invitation to take & eat is enough hope to hold on to for today.

Tagged , , ,

psalm 34

psalm 34
Have you ever seen the movie, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story?
That’s what I feel like a lil bit, not having written in a hot minute.
And if you haven’t – go watch it right now. One of the more underrated animated movies of 1993.
Back to the point, Smith.
Hello, world. We continue with your regularly scheduled programming of a look through the Psalms.
Psalm 34.
The header of this psalm in most Bibles is: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good.
If I could describe my greatest desire for the people in my life, it is that they would taste and see that the Lord is good.
A few years ago I had the honor of being on a panel at my church, discussing the importance of reading scripture and why it is such an important part of my relationship with God.
One of the final questions asked was, “What draws you in to Scripture?”
My answer, through tears, was, “I’ve experienced Jesus and I’ve experienced His goodness, and I can’t stay away. I am changed. I am a different person because of the truth of Scripture.”
And the truth is, I truly am a different person because of Jesus.
His Word changes me.
The angel of the Lord encamps around me and delivers me.
The Lord is near to me – the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
He delivers me out of all afflictions.
But the trouble in my heart comes when I read David writing things like, “I will bless the Lord at all times…My soul makes its boast in the Lord…”
Because that is def.in.ite.ly not true of me.
Often, I bless myself.
I boast in my own accomplishments.
OR (and this one cuts deep) I wallow in my own self-pity.
My woe-is-me temperament takes full control and all I want to do is sit in a pit of despair, begging for others to join me in my demise.
But then.
I consider Jesus.
And I know in the deepest part of my soul that He truly is near to the brokenhearted.
As Peter said, “Lord, where else should I go? You have the words of eternal life!”
I know David’s words to be true.
I know that God is nearer than any.
I know that He is truer than any.
I know that His mercies are new every morning.
I know that He is more steadfast than I can even wrap my brain around.
And yet.
I doubt His goodness.
Often, because I’ve lost my taste.
I’ve decided to eat the bread that the world offers instead of feasting from the Bread of Life.
On good days, I can proclaim with full confidence that I will hunger no more because of the sustenance that God offers through redemption in Jesus.
On bad days, I can softly whisper that I am fighting to reach the crumbs on the floor – crawling to get back to Jesus’ table side – because I know that only there will I find fullness of life.
But the crawl might give me scrapes on my knees.
The effort often seems too daunting.
It’s hard to comprehend that it’ll be worth it.
Yet.
I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
So I’m going to keep fighting for that meal.
Cut up knees and all, I want to keep tasting and seeing that the Lord truly is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 34
Tagged ,

mourning motherhood

mourning motherhood.png

For as long as I can remember, Mother’s Day service at the church I grew up in always looked the same. The pastor would ask the moms in the room to stand up. They would, and everyone would clap. Then he would proceed to figure out which mom had the most kids by asking women to sit down if they had less than X number of children. By process of elimination, our congregation would celebrate the mother of the most children and she would be presented with a beautiful floral arrangement. Then the same process would occur to figure out which mom was the oldest AND which mom was the youngest, and both would receive a flower to take home and set as a center piece for Sunday dinner.

We were in the business of celebrating moms.

From an early age I knew that to be celebrated as a woman I needed to have children.

And I don’t say that in a prideful way.
I’m not fishing for applause, nor do I intend to have an “everyone come see how good I look!” attitude.

Simply put, I knew my value in the church and society would increase as soon as I had a kid.

So imagine 17-year-old Kayla mapping her life out.
Married by 22, 23 at the latest.
First child by 25, cause ya know…let’s be married for at least a couple of years before we have kids.
Be done growing my brood by 32.

And here I am.
Almost 29.
No marriage.
No kids.

The dreams I had for myself 12 years ago left unfulfilled.

And I’m not the only one. I know many people who have had to mourn the loss of the dreams they had for themselves. Whether focused on marriage, career, being a parent…whatever it may be. We all have things that we desire that have not come to pass.

And it’s okay to mourn those things.
It’s okay to feel deep sorrow for something you’ve never had.
To feel a sense of loss and sadness over something that was never yours to begin with is okay. In fact, I think it’s natural.

Especially when we’ve believed the lie that the thing we’re mourning is somehow attached to our value.

And yes, it is a lie. Straight from the mouth of the enemy.
It’s a lie for anyone, anywhere, in any context to tell you (or even show you by their reaction, or lack of) that your value is tied to an.y.thing other than Jesus.

If you find yourself with people – or in a community – that try to tell you that you can’t be fully who you are because you don’t have a husband/child/higher paying job/boots with the fur, you lovingly tell them to shut the H up.*

Be with people who, along with the Holy Spirit, help redeem the lies that have been spoken into your life.

A BIG PRAISE & AMEN for the way God has softened the ground of my heart and given me so many people who speak truth over my life. And not only speak it, but by their actions are in the process of redeeming so much of what has been broken over the years.

People who:

  • 2 weeks after their child is born and we’re in a crowded room say, “Here, take him while I go do something…” And let me snuggle their little one for what feels like an eternity.
  • trust me enough to stay overnight with their kids so they can go on a marriage retreat.
  • are honest with me when I ask them what it’s like to raise three boys and how they teach their kids to live off their own faith and not mom & dad’s.
  • invite me into their lives by sharing the joyous news of a new baby and remind me that they want me to be a part of their kid’s life.
  • let me sit on the floor of their nursery while they put their baby to sleep.
  • tell me that they feel safe and comfortable when I hold their daughter and, as I walk up, basically throw her at me because their arms need a break.
  • affirm the voice that I have with their kids and trust that I love their children and want to point them to Jesus.
  • when I ask them about their lives, they don’t just talk about their kids. They talk about themselves. Because that’s what I’ve asked about. And we can share life as people whose identities are rooted in Jesus, not the other labels that we carry.

You see, I’ve mourned “natural” motherhood for myself up to this point in my life. But I don’t really have to mourn all of what motherhood is because I have people in my life that value me. Kayla. They see me and love me and affirm who God has made me to be. They call me to good and ask me to do the same of them, and their kids.

For all the non-mom’s out there today, or any day really, know that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to mourn that which you do not have. But also know that it’s okay to fight for community that not only allows, but asks, for you to live out the way God has made you as woman. Whatever that might look like.

And know that if we were to be in a church together and the pastor asked all the mom’s to stand up, I would clap for them, but then I would stand up and shout, “All women, rise!” and I would throw out candy because that’s usually better than flowers anyways 🙂

*but seriously, do it lovingly, not with anger or bitterness or trying to beat them at their own game. and if you need to take a beat, call me, then chat with them about it, feel free!

 

Tagged , , ,

worst case scenario

new life belongs to those that are in Him..png

Have you ever seen the movie Inside Out?
If not, stop what you’re doing, go watch it, then come back and finish reading this blog.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

….

Awesome. Welcome back.

l.o.v.e. that movie. So so much. It’s funny. It makes me feel good. And there’s finally an animated character other than Pocahontas that I can relate to. Her name is Sadness.

Sadness is…well…sad. She likes to point out the dread in everything. She makes the other emotions aware of the worst case scenario in an attempt to be helpful throughout their shenanigans.

One of my favorites to illustrate the point even further:

Sadness: It’s long-term memory…you’ll get lost in there!
Joy: C’mon! Think positive!
Sadness: Okay…I’m positive you’ll get lost in there!

I’ve been known to say very similar things in my lifetime.

ANYWAYS.

I can be like Sadness sometimes. I have this superpower of always being able to play out the worst case scenario, no matter the situation, in about .41 seconds.

It’s a gift, I tell ya.

But recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about what my actual worst case scenario is.
God originally planted this little whisper in my ear about a year ago, but He has been speaking it louder and louder over the past few weeks.

And here it is:

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

That’s it.
The worst thing that could actually happen to me is new life.
Redemption.
Resurrection.
Eternity with the One who created me, sustains me, and loves me with a steadfast, everlasting love.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t feel the effects of sin and brokenness in our world.
I do feel them.
I feel them for myself.
I feel them for others.
I/we experience that which we were not originally meant to experience: death.

But.
Guess what comes after death.

Resurrection.
New life.
Complete wholeness, the way it was meant to be.

This Holy Week, in reading through the multiple accounts of Jesus the Christ’s death, it’s clear that He dies.

He has to.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

When he cried out “it is finished” on the cross, the Greek word is “tetelestai” – literally meaning to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill.

The Savior of the world declared it was finished and gave up his spirit.
He declared the reign of darkness had ended.
Light has come.
His complete work had been accomplished.

And he died.

But…Sunday is coming.
Resurrection is His.
New life belongs to those that are in Him.

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

Tagged , , , ,
Advertisements