Author Archives: kayla

psalm 38

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (38:9 ESV)
“You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.” (38:9 NLT)
“Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight, my groans an old story to you. My heart’s about to break; I’m a burned-out case.” (38:9 MSG)

One of my favorite things about the psalms is their honesty.

Read any psalm and you will experience space where emotion and theology meet. A space where the writers are fully aware of who they are and who God is. A space where dishonesty has no ground to stand on because the writers have laid their hearts open, fully exposed.

And, personally, I think this type of honesty with God is achieved because the writers – specifically David, author of our psalm today – are so anchored into knowing Who they belong to. They know the relational safety it takes to be able to cry out with the words, “I’m worn out, completely crushed; I groan because of my miserable heart.” (38:8 CEB) and know without doubt that their God hears them.

If you had a good relationship with your parents growing up, do you remember the fights you would have? How you would rip into them because they got onto you for going over your text limits again this month and it was just so unfair because your friends had 100 texts per month and you only had 50*?! And then 2 hours later they were cheering you on at your basketball game?

Just me?

Think about the safety you had to be able to pour out all you were feeling and know that, at the end of the day, they still loved you.

And then we get into relationship with God and for some reason we think that relationship operates differently.

Even though the Lord saw you miss curfew more times than mom and dad did.

We think we can hide our emotions. We think we need to hide our emotions.

Because if He knows I feel this way then maybe He’ll be mad at me.
Maybe I’ll lose favor in His sight.
Maybe He’ll turn His back on me.

But the longer I live this life with Jesus the more comfortable I become with giving Him all that’s inside of me – my anger, my sadness, my hope, my joy, my loneliness, my gratitude, my longings…my self.

Because God has proven Himself faithful in my life, He is the safest relationship I have.

It’s terrifying as hell to know this kind of safety, because knowing this kind of safety means I have to do something with it.

I have to trust Him.

My sighing is not hidden from Him.
My delight is not hidden from Him.
My hope is not hidden from Him.
My despair is not hidden from Him.
All of me is before Him.

I don’t have a tidy way to wrap this one up. I’ve got adrenaline running at 120mph right now and am about to go see a Tony Award winning musical in leggings and a Walmart t-shirt.

So I guess I’ll end it with this: what a gift to have the writers of the psalms leading the way, teaching me (us) what it means to bring our full selves to the Lord, knowing that He sees, knows, and takes great delight when we lay our hearts bear before Him.

*if you don’t know what I’m referring to here, we have nothing in common

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a great cloud of withness

Did you have a basement as a kid? If so, are the we same type of weird where (if the light switch was at the bottom of the stairs) as soon as your turned the lights off you broke the land speed record getting to the top so you could stay away from all the monsters that crept out when the lights were off? There are even times now, as a grown woman, that I have to force myself to slow down and walk gingerly up the steps of my parents house, reminding myself that the monsters in the basement aren’t interested in me and will leave me alone.

My miniBFF recently asked me to come to the basement with him because he needed to grab a couple things for nap time. On the way down he mentioned that he was scared of going to the basement by himself. After a, “No problem, I’ll go with you!” he asked, “Are you scared of anything?”

“I’m scared of a lot of things bud.”
“Like what?”
“Sometimes I’m scared of the dark, basements by myself, and being up really high. There are alot of things that scare me.”
“How do you not be scared?”
“Well, I ask Jesus to help me be brave, and my friends help me remember that I can be brave because they are there to help me too! When I’m scared, I just ask for someone to come with me, and then we can both be brave together!”
“Like we’re doing right now!”

Exactly.

(side note: it’s always the kids. pay attention to them. the kingdom belongs to these.)

I haven’t been able to let this interaction go. It holds the truest thing about my story over the last couple of years. It speaks to the great cloud of withness about me.

Withness is a term I swiped from Ann Voskamp. I don’t fully know the context she uses it in because I just get it from her Instagram stories, but ultimately she speaks to the witness and withness of Christ and His people.

We bear witness to the Gospel as we bear with one another.

As I embark on new adventures or travel back into wounded spaces, I can do so with great bravery because I know that I have the withness of those that love me in the journey. I bring those with me that remind me of who I am, and who Christ is, in the midst of the hard, beautiful, scary, dark, exciting, unknown places.

Sometimes that looks like a first date.
Sometimes that looks like a hard conversation with a friend.
Sometimes that looks like a celebration of a loved one for a thing that I’m longing for.
And sometimes, that looks like walking down the steps into a basement with a little one that just needs me to be with him to help him be brave.

I can be brave with and for him because someone has been brave with and for me.

So many of us are unwilling to go with someone because of what it might cost us. It could cost us time, energy, or even money. It could cost us vulnerability and having to actually be known by someone – risking both rejection and love. But if there’s one thing I know in the depth of my bones, it’s that the reward of going with has always (and I do mean always) outweighed the risk.

If you’re scared, bring people along.
Ask them to be with you.
Be with those that ask.

Getting through this life, IMHO, will be abundantly rich if we take with us a great cloud of withness.

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hopes & dreams

I had a birthday recently. Obviously, if you pay attention to the picture above, you know how old I am. I think I’m going to call this my triple-threat year.

One of my favorite birthday traditions with myself is to make some space for reflection over where I’ve seen God move and work in the days since my last birthday, and to dream dreams with Him about what we want to see happen between now and the next.

I’m not naturally prone to gratitude. If anything, I remind myself often of the lack – where I’ve missed the mark, where I could’ve done better, the gaps that I failed to fill. I threat forecast. I see where things have gone wrong, and I try to prevent those things from happening in the future. So, the practice of gratitude, well…needless to say, it can be life or death for me sometimes.

This past year has been the hardest.
Yet, the bravest.
The driest, yet, the most abundant.
The loneliest, yet, full of more love and community than I could have ever imagined.

It has felt…pivotal.

So many things were brought to the surface.
So many things took deep, deep root in the soil of my heart.

So as I entered in to my hopes and dreams for the coming year of my life, it was a tricky process.

How do I hope, when I’ve been hoping and nothing has changed?
How do I dream when my dreams seem foolish and unattainable?
How do I step into the unknown of year 33 with joy and gladness and faith and trust?

The short answer is – I don’t know.

I don’t know how to move forward on my own.
I don’t know how to navigate being a human in 2022 at the age of 33.

But what I do know is that God is present.
I’m not moving forward on my own, I’m moving forward with the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
I’m moving forward with a great cloud of witnesses surrounding me, sitting with me in my hopes and my dreams, in my losses and my letdowns.
I’m navigating being a human with other humans who know how hard it is to be human, but how infinitely full it is to be human together, and with Christ.

So, my hopes and dreams for 33 are basically this:
Remain with Jesus.
Remain with His people.
Trust the kindness of God to get me to 34.

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the smallest grasp

My friend’s youngest is learning how to walk. TBH, if I were her, I’d keep letting suckers like me pick her up to snuggle until I’m 18, but apparently that’s not how developmental stages work.

Not long ago I was sitting on her kitchen floor, arms outstretched, coaxing her to take a step or two. She’d done it before, so we knew the feat could be mastered, but she was paralyzed in a tiny little 16 month old stance. Making eye contact with me, looking at my hands, my fingertips just out of reach of hers. I balled up my fist and offered her just my pinky – because we’re classy ladies. #pinkysout
She took the tiniest hold on the tip of my tiniest finger and immediately raced across the tiled floor into my arms.

I scooped her up, we yelled “YAY!!”, and tried again.

I’ve been thinking about that small, necessary grasp a lot since then.

Thinking about how often I am paralyzed, reaching out for the smallest point of connection in order to move forward. And once I have that connection, how easy it is to run with zero hesitation.

Thinking about how, often, Holy Spirit is just waiting for me to take a step on my own. How Jesus – my Savior and Example – is cheering me on, knowing that I’ve done it before and I can do it again and it is okay to trust myself.

How just the smallest grasp – the tiniest tip – of connection and safety can propel forward soul-shifting action.

Often all I’m looking for with Jesus is a point of connection. His pinky finger outstretched in front of me.

The thing I hope this little one knows is that my pinky will always be there to grab hold of.
The thing I hope I never forget is that Jesus is always there to grab hold of.

Movement forward doesn’t need gigantic signs of confirmation, perfection in the steps to be taken, or zero-risk on the road ahead.

It just needs the smallest grasp.

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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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