Author Archives: kayla

“with Thee and with one another”

It has effectively been almost 5 months since I’ve last put pen (keyboard) to paper (screen).

It’s a weird thing to be able to put a timeline on. Mainly because, for 4 years I would write on a regular basis, not going more than a couple weeks without getting some thoughts down. It feels like a weird muscle I’ve forgotten how to flex. And if there’s anything I know about not using muscles for a long time, it’s that once you start again it can be awkward and hard. Which is why you don’t start doing it again. And then the longer you go, the more awkward and harder it gets. So you keep putting it off.

You aren’t as strong as you were before.
You aren’t able to go for as long as you once could.
You run out of breath faster.
And you’re going to be sore in a couple hours, if not immediately.

And it feels like all of those things will apply here. Especially shortness of breath.

But the thing that has kicked me back into workout mode (okay, I’m done with that analogy) is something my grandmother prayed at my sister’s birthday dinner.

As we do at family gatherings, the food was out, people were standing ready to get in line (yes, we have a line because it’s not abnormal for more than 12 people to be at these things and that amount of food doesn’t fit in the middle of a table…), and my dad asked his mom to pray for our meal and our time together.

As she prays, she says this phrase, “And Lord, we thank you for the fellowship we have with Thee and with one another…”

I’ve heard my grandma pray many times in my life, but that phrase really got me this time around. It struck me how she was so comfortable likening the relationship she has with the Lord to the one she has with the people around her. She is in fellowship with all parties.

Fellowship, to me, is companionship, mutual support, togetherness…..friendship.

And when I think about my friends, I think about joy, care, love, camaraderie, encouragement, rebuke, laughter, time together, Netflix binges, and movie quotes.
(Okay, so some of my thoughts aren’t as spiritual as others, but also have you ever seen Pride & Prejudice because that was a SPIRITUAL experience…)

But when I think about my relationship with the Lord – especially lately – I see it more authoritarian. I see Him as sovereign, holy, and just. All of those are good things, but those aren’t the only things He is. He is also caring, loving, encouraging, and a friend.

Sometimes our pendulum can swing too far toward that last one and we start wearing “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts, effectively forgetting that He is also the just, righteous God over all created things. But I think my pendulum has swung a smidge too far the other way. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have fellowship with the Lord. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to see Him as a friend to my soul that cares about the mundane details of my every day.

I’m so glad that the friends I have in this life are Kingdom people that make me better on a daily basis. But I need to remember that the King is also my friend whose Spirit was literally sent to this earth to make me better moment by moment.

I don’t know if this is a real thing, but I want to start practicing the discipline of friendship with the Lord. And, in the words of my grandmother, grow in fellowship with Thee and with one another.

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just be kind

A few years ago, one of my dearest introduced me to the mythical creature that is Dan Allender. “Because of the way you love story, I just really think you’d be in to this guy.”

And boy, was she right.

A conference, a couple books, and many podcast episodes later, we arrive at today.

Listening to podcasts is one of the best ways for me to keep my mind engaged throughout the day when I’m doing no-brain-space-needed tasks. Yesterday in the midst of one of those tasks, I was listening to an Allender Center episode called Stumbling Toward Wholeness. 
I MORE than recommend you go listen to the two-episode series.

The thing that has been stirring in my mind for the past day & a half is something the guest said early on: Kindness toward ourselves is not pride. Hatred toward ourselves is not humility.

I’m sorry. What? You mean that if I think something is good or delightful about the way I am or the things I do, it’s okay for me to call those things out? To give glory to the good parts of me? To say, “Wow, God! Good job on making me the way that you did!”

Boy, do we do a real crappy job of that as Christians.

But his point – and it is so true – is that when someone does call out the good in themselves, we dismiss them as prideful, arrogant jerks.

When someone calls out the good in us, we dismiss them as not really knowing what they are talking about. “Are you kidding? You really don’t believe those good things about me, do you?”

This happened to me just a couple weeks ago. My sweet friend called out a thing that she admires in me and I buried my chin into my chest and completely dismissed the blessing she was giving to my spirit. Words I so desperately needed to hear in the moment, but was so unwilling to receive out of fear of being perceived as full-of-myself.

I was so unkind to myself. And in turn, a little unkind to my friend.

Diminishing who I am is not being a humble servant of the Lord.
It’s actually dimming the Light within me, unwilling to acknowledge or celebrate the exact imprint & image of God that I uniquely reflect.

It’s okay to be kind to yourself.
As Romans 2:4 says, “Do you not know that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance?”

And when someone in your circle is struggling to be kind to her own self, celebrate her. Tell her who she is in Christ. Call out the good. Be kind to her.

Know that you are blessed to be a blessing, and it’s more than okay to hold that truth with tender kindness for yourself.

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leaving behind a ‘bold’ faith

I recently saw an Instagram story of one of my favorite authors/podcasters/”influencers” in which they said they were going to be speaking at a conference for young girls, teaching them how to live boldly as young Christian women. That phrase – live boldly – made me cringe. Then roll my eyes. Then have painful flashbacks of my time in youth group where I, too, was encouraged to live a bold faith.

What I’m about to say…well…write…I write with the utmost respect and love for where I came from: the Church did not make me a disciple of Jesus when I was younger.

I grew up in the height of things like Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames, Sharing Jesus Without Fear, and True Love Waits. And that’s just scratching the surface of the myriad of programs, discipleship tools, etc that we went through in order to live out a bold faith.

I mean, can you imagine? Who wouldn’t become a Christian after sitting through a “theatrical performance” about dying and seeing who’s picked to live in heaven/hell for eternity. THAT STUFF IS CRAZY AND WHY DO WE MAKE KIDS SIT THROUGH IT?!

Also, I have a whole thing about TLW, but I’ll save that for another blog or else this one might turn into a novel.

Moving on.

I grew up believing – and being taught – that as long as I was following the rules laid out before me, sharing Jesus with my friends on a daily basis (per the Roman’s Road layout), and not missing an opportunity to present the Gospel to every stranger I came into contact with, then my faith would be bold and I would be deemed a good Christian.

It was all about the show. All about the numbers.

“Kayla, have you invited _______ to church yet? You said you were going to do that this week.”
“Umm, yes, I have, but they can’t make it…”
“Well, try again, because their eternity is in your hands.”

Ya know, just your average guilt trip for a 14 year old.

So, when I hear someone say they are teaching young girls to live a bold faith, you can see why I would cringe.

My heart begins to ache for a new generation of young women – and men – that might be led to believe that their “boldness” only comes from how well they have Scripture memorized and how many of their friends actually show up to church with them.

But I’m also afraid we’re attributing the wrong actions to the word we’re using.

The definition of bold is: courageous & daring.

Courageous faith is something I can get behind.

Courageous faith doesn’t just spit out a string of memorized verses to her friends in hopes that one or two words will stick.
Courageous faith doesn’t see people as metrics.

Courageous faith bears the burdens of the people around her, regardless of whether or not they convert.
Courageous faith loves people because that’s what Jesus did. He knelt down and started writing in the sand while the religious elite wanted to stone a woman.
Courageous faith cares more about the person across the table’s heart than she cares about reporting back to her youth group on how many times she’s left a tract for the waitress to pick up.

I want us, Church, to stop shaming young kids into conversion – or into trying to get their friends to convert. I want us to teach them how to know Jesus for themselves, growing deep roots of faith in their own hearts. The “do-ing” of faith can come later. Let’s teach them how to know Jesus and be a beloved child of God before anything else.

I’ve seen too many friends that were “on fire” for Christ when we were younger that are now apathetic about Jesus. It’ll take a different post to give my theory on that, but the nutshell is: we weren’t made to be disciples of Christ, we were made to be disciples of a program.

The older I get the more I’m finding that I don’t want to live the bold faith I was told to live when I was younger. I want to live a faith that is settled, secure, and relies fully on the power of the Holy Spirit to transform hearts. I want my courage to come from something other than a certificate I sign at the end of a program. I want my boldness to come from Jesus because He loves me, not because I’m trying to impress Him with my actions.

I’m okay with trading in my old, bold faith for a new heart that is settled in Jesus.

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wait.

Here we go with Kayla’s Word of the Year recap for 2018. I know that my faithful 11 followers (appreciate y’all) have been anticipating this blog drop. Which is quite fitting since it’s about my year of waiting. I’ve just been making you suckers wait, joining in the sometimes agonizing in-between of one thing and another.

That sentence made no sense, but that’s how I live my life.

I’ve never really been one for resolutions. I can remember as a 3rd grader being asked what our New Year’s resolutions were in class and I just shrugged my shoulders when the question got around to me. There’s probably something in that about my inability to be decisive…

But, for the past…well…I don’t know exactly how long, but a while…I have prayed about and landed upon a word of the year.

2018’s word: Wait.

When asked about my word, I found myself hesitating to reveal it, and very quick to defend it once I told.

I feared that people would think I chose wait as my word because I’m the single girl and that’s what single girls do. We wait. For a husband.

But that wasn’t it at all. If anything, I desired the year of waiting to be about everything BUT that. I felt like God was laying it upon my heart to learn what it means to actively wait for Him.

The image above was the lock screen on my phone for the entire year. For 365.25 days, I would raise my phone to see that word and that verse. I was constantly reminded that the Lord is good to those that wait for Him. And (this is of particular importance, I believe), the soul that seeks Him.

I felt an urge from Holy Spirit to sit in anticipation of waiting for God to move. To truly seek Him with my whole soul – my entire self. To wait for His revelation in my life. And ultimately, to wait with expectant hope for Him to return and set all things right.


One thing I think I’m pretty good at is surrounding myself with wise, loving friends. Over a year ago – before the year of wait began – I was sitting with one of those friends, talking about this very idea. About the uncomfortability that exists in the waiting.

“But here’s the thing,” she says as the wisdom starts to seep out, “there are consequences to not waiting. Can you imagine what would’ve happened had the disciples not waited like Jesus told them to? They would’ve missed the Holy Spirit. There are consequences!”

And that sealed it for me. I had to learn how to wait because there would be consequences if I didn’t.


2018 was a weird & difficult one. I was asked to wait in a lot of different areas of life. For reconciliation. For healing. For new life – physically and spiritually. For revelation. For next steps to take. Clarity was given in some areas, and more questions were given in others. But in all, God remained who He always has been: loving and faithful to His people.

Just because the year is over and I’m on to a new word doesn’t mean I’ve gotten this active waiting down. In fact, I’ve seen a pattern over the last few years of my words building off of one another. I believe that in His great mercy, God has simply laid the groundwork for what He’s going to teach me this year.

And truly, I can’t wait.

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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. 


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