Author Archives: kayla

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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psalm 36

As one might do on a Wednesday night, I started to go through photos on my phone to delete unnecessary screen shots and memes that have already been shared with my friends. I wasn’t expecting to stumble upon notes from a podcast I listened to in January that brought me to tears:

notes from the podcast “Fun Therapy” with guest Annie F. Downs

Side note: if you don’t have a whiteboard somewhere in your living quarters, were you even raised by a coach?!

“God is not eager to dissappoint* me.”

*don’t judge me for my hasty spelling

I have used the word “eager” a lot this week. Merriam-Webster defines the word as: marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest.

I have very impatient interest in a lot of things currently. I am looking forward with great eagerness for moments on the horizon. And what January Kayla reminded April Kayla of tonight is that, in the midst of my anxious eager energy, God’s eagerness for me is way more kind that my eagerness for myself.

He is not eager to disappoint.

Psalm 36:7-9 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.”

God is eager for my good. He has enthusiastic desire to shelter me, care for me, pour out His abundance on me.

Often, in my own self-pity, I can project the belief that God is eager to let me down. Like a playground punk that takes every slide, swing, and climbing wall out from under me.

But that’s just not His character.

His character is that of a loving, kind, generous Father that allows His children to drink deeply from His fountain of life.

So tonight, I’m saying thank you to past-Kayla because she has ministered to present-Kayla’s heart. And I’m going to curl up under the wings of a faithful, loving, kind Shelter who is eager for my good.

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psalm 35

A couple years ago I started writing through the Psalms in an effort to work out my finger muscles and then, well, I just got lazy and stopped.

So I thought tonight would be a great night to pick it back up with Psalm 35.

This psalm shows how the faithful people of God should pray when malicious people are seeking to harm them. It’s an interesting one to open up to on a day like today, where our nation’s capital has, essentially, been attacked.

It would be easy for me to take these verses and put a nice American twist on them, focusing on how God should rescue America from those that scheme against us (and let you interpret for yourself who the schemers are). But, may I remind us that God is not under America’s control. America is under God’s control. Because all of time and place is under God’s control. And the Bible does not exist to justify, or satisfy, our political or national agendas.

The plea of verse 1 – “Content, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!” – has nothing to do with national imprecation.
Sure, David was singing this song of prayer while he was being pursued by enemies. He was crying out for his God to intervene and save his life. But David is not America.

This psalm does, however, have everything to do with God’s people being confident enough in the One who says He will, and already has, fight for His people. The One who defeated death so that we might have life. And, follower of Jesus, you belong to a Kingdom that America will never fully understand.

The cry of verse 1 is that God will take up the cause of His people.

This feels really disjointed and floppy and just not well written, but my finger muscles are starting to get worked out again and sometimes the first workout back is always the choppiest.

So with that in mind, I end with this prayer:
Holy, Just, and Righteous God – take up the cause of Your people. Give me, and those reading, consistent desire to hand our cause over to You – to be molded by Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your Father heart for us. When we ask, “How long, O Lord, will you look on?”, remind us that you are continually with us – that nothing catches You off guard. Remind us that You are still God and You are still good. That your mercy endures forever. That You will not be put to shame. And that Your Kingdom will reign eternal.
Amen.

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