Category Archives: Contentment

the windy city

Yes. This is about Chicago. But also, it’s not.

Five years ago I took my first summer trip to Chicago as an adult. I have to caveat that because I went as a teen for a softball tournament and fell in love with the city, but my parents were with me, so I was limited on the shenanigans I could get into.

I went with two dear friends and we had a fantastic time – 2 nights, 3 days right on Lake Shore Drive, eating pizza, seeing comedy shows, and delighting in the company of one another. It’s truly one of the dearest memories I have in traveling with friends.

This week, I went back for my first summer trip since then. I love Chi-town and have been many times, but for whatever reason I’ve chosen the cold months to visit throughout these five years. As I got off the train and started walking around, my mind began to wade through the last five years (which also happens to be the name of the saddest/best musical movie starring Anna Kendrick that my friend watched and told me I was horrible for recommending. Seriously. It’s sad.)

I digress.

The last five years.

I began to think about the friends I was with in 2014 and how we have since had a pretty major friend breakup.

I only have my side of the story, and I’m not going to share that with everyone. But the truth of the matter is, there was a tremendous ripping apart between us. We all played a role in the ripping. I will own my part in that hurt. But it was a breakup that I never saw coming because it was with friends. The ripping apart was hard. But that doesn’t take away what those friends meant to me in that season.

This past February, author and podcaster Annie F. Downs spoke at IF:Gathering on this exact topic. Her talk, What Happens When People Let You Down? (can be found on RightNow Media), spoke about the heartbreak of breakups – how when a breakup happens, you lose the future you thought you were going to have. But we don’t talk about losing the future with friends. So, in the way that only Annie can, she did.

And she gutted me with this line: “Losing a friendship feels like a ripping when that friend becomes and idol.”

And ultimately, that’s what I had let happen in my past friendships. They become my idol. The relationship itself became an idol. They were the thing that kept me safe and secure.

This time around, I went by myself.

I sent this picture to my mom so she knew I was safe, but as I looked at it – at me – I saw someone who is just way more settled into the fact that nothing outside of Jesus can satisfy, save, or secure her. 2014 Kayla was grasping for straws when it came to security, love, being known.

2019 Kayla knows she is secure, loved, and known in Christ.
I don’t have it all worked out, but I’m comfortable with knowing that God is working it out.

And now, as Annie also said, my friendships work because I don’t ask them to be my God. I just ask them to be my friend. With God as my closest friend, all other friends are a delightful gift.

And that they are. As I took inventory of my friends on Ohio Street Beach, I (surprise) got emotional. Overwhelmingly thankful that God has seen fit to give me Himself with flesh on in the form of my friends. And has given me the gift of Himself, so that I don’t have to grasp for and impress people that will let me down.

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2017 – the year of joy

2017 - joy

A few years ago instead of making a bunch of resolutions at the beginning of a new year, I resolved to instead choose a word representing my desire for what the year could bring or what I hope God would specifically shape in my heart over a 365 day period.

2016 was the year of dwelling.
2017 was the year of joy.

In many ways 2017 has sucked.*

Amy Poehler writes in her book, Yes, Please, “Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

Now, obviously, I have never been divorced. Or married.
But in a lot of ways, 2017 was a year of loading up the blanket, tossing it in the air, and seeing what would happen when things landed.

Friendships shifted in ways I didn’t expect.
I experienced spiritual warfare in the most personal, physical way that I have never experienced before.
The hope of a budding relationship and a life of non-singleness didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

And that’s just, like, 17% of the past year.

But…

God didn’t leave me.

While some friendships shifted away, others moved even closer and grew even deeper.
In the midst of the battlefield, Jesus took up His sword and fought on my behalf.
God showed me, yet again, that He alone is the true lover of my whole self.

God didn’t leave me without.

And that’s why it truly was the year of joy.

On the outside looking in, it probably wouldn’t be labeled a joyful year.

But on the inside, I know in the core of who I am, that joy is not defined by my circumstances.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  – James 1:2-4

(Jesus speaking, after talking about abiding in Him) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:11

You see, my joy – by God’s grace – is Him. It is a deep, abiding truth that He will never leave me or forsake me. That in Christ, I am loved and known and treasured, and in turn can love and know and treasure the One who has come to set the captive free.

I don’t think my journey with joy is over – but I do think that in the midst of all the tossing, this is what has landed: the joy of the Lord is my strength.

 

 

*but also, my baby sister got married and is now going to also have a baby of her own, SO THAT’S REALLY COOL!

wedding edit.jpeg

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what do i do when i don’t get the blessing?

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I’ve been writing this one in my head for a few weeks, so it’s probably time to put it on internet paper.

With graduations and engagements and weddings and new seasons in general, I’ve seen a lot on social media about God being so good because people are so blessed.

I get really excited when people acknowledge that we serve and are known by a good, loving, gracious, merciful God who gives His children good things.
But I get pretty bummed out when we only acknowledge Him along with completing a degree, getting engaged, receiving a promotion, getting pregnant, starting a new relationship, get a new car…insert “good thing” here.

I believe those things are all good things, and again, it is of utmost importance to recognize that good gifts come from our good God. That, ultimately, we don’t earn or deserve what we have – it has all been given for us to steward and use for God’s glory.

But what happens when I don’t get the blessing?
Is God still good?

What happens when:
I fail a class and have to retake it, putting graduation off for another year…
My boyfriend breaks up with me because he’s just not feeling it anymore…
I receive a formal reprimand because of relational friction in the workplace…
I have miscarriage after miscarriage and just don’t understand why my body isn’t cooperating…
Both of my grandmas get cancer at the same time…
Friends that I thought would be by my side forever have now rejected me and I have no idea why…
My car gets totaled in a hail storm…

Is God still good?

Or have we become a people who condition His love for us, and dare I say, our love for Him, along with what He gives us?

Tonight I’m going to the church I grew up in to open up a youth rally with some worship time. I’m going to play a song that has these lyrics:

Though You slay me, yet I will praise You
Though You take from me, I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me, still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who’s all I need

I’m straight up nervous about this one because I know it will rock some worlds.

“Umm…nah…I’m not interested in that God.”
“If God is good, He wouldn’t take from me.”
“But doesn’t God just want us all to be happy and feel good all of the time?”

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Do you know what God’s Word says is perfect? God’s love & Jesus’ life.

Jesus is the perfect gift.
Jesus is the good gift.
Jesus is the blessing that none of us deserve but all of us can freely receive.

My blessing isn’t that I receive every material gift I’ve ever wanted and have no hardship in life.

My blessing is that the God of all creation sent His one and only Son to live a life that I cannot live – a life free from sin – die a death that I deserve to die because of my sin and rebellion against His perfection, and raise again on the third day so that I am now made spotless, whole, complete in Him.

I’d rather have that blessing than anything this world has to offer.

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it is well.

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I’ve been practicing some songs for my church’s upcoming Women’s Retreat. Not necessarily just to show off my snazzy vocal range (because I don’t really have one), but because I have the awesome privilege of leading a room full of ladies in worship.

Moments like these, I’m glad the Bible talks about making a joyful noise, not necessarily a beautiful one…

I digress.

One of the songs I’ve been playing over and over is It Is Well.

This song is ruining my life.

In a good way though.

Let me explain.

I get to the second verse of this song and my eyes start watering:

Though satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

(yes, I still use Old English)

But do you see the beauty here? Though times are gonna stink occasionally, and it may seem like the enemy is getting away with A LOT, Jesus still sees me. He has, and is, looking upon my helpless situation, and He gave His own blood to redeem me. No one took it from Him. He willingly bled on my behalf.

(Kinda reminds me of Dodgeball…“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Nobody!”)

Sorry. I’ve had a lot of coffee today.

And then, the third verse, where I’m lucky to make it through without my voice cracking multiple times:

My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

My sin, every last ounce of it, is nailed to the cross where the Savior of the world took my punishment. It is no longer mine to bear. I have freedom because the Lamb of God decided I was worth it.

Man. How can you not cry about that?

I’m not going to get in to anything else tonight, because I think this is enough. We have been redeemed. Our sin is nailed to the cross and we can stop beating ourselves up about it. Repent, draw near to Jesus, and know that He has regarded your estate and paid the price for your sins.

Rest secure in that tonight.

It truly is well with my soul.

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the badge of busyness

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Really hoping I spelled busyness correctly. I can never remember if it’s with an ‘i’ or a ‘y’…also, you don’t put ‘an’ in front of ‘y’, right? Even though it’s sometimes used as a vowel? English teachers, chime in as you feel necessary.

Also, just Googled it. I definitely spelled ‘busyness’ correctly.

Whew. I was worried.

ANYWAYS.

I’ll be the third one to admit that I can be a slave to my schedule. I prefer to make plans with people at minimum 3 days in advance. I do not do well with spontaneity. It makes me a little sweaty. I like to know (read: control) what I’m doing well in advance of when I’m doing it.

I’m working on it though. #babysteps

And along with that, for an introvert, I enjoy having a full calendar. Mainly, I think, so I can control my environment. Even if the thing that’s on my calendar is alone time.

Seriously.

I’ve scheduled alone time with myself before.

Often, I like to think that I’m back in my Brownie days with my vest on and everyone can see my little badges. And one that I like to flaunt quite frequently is my badge of busyness.

“So, long time no see! How have you been?”-person
“Oh man…ya know…busy.”-me

“Anything new happening in your life?”-another person
“Not really, just super busy all the time.”-me again

I want to move at a fast pace, filling my life with things and commitments, yet I struggle to slow down and be with Jesus.

Then I get confused and frustrated and hurt when I feel far from Him. I feel like God isn’t keeping up and that I need to pull His weight as well as mine. I don’t understand why He isn’t honoring all of the good things I’m doing by giving me what I want when I want them.

Then, I do slow down. I take the time to be with Him. I make myself busy with Jesus. And I see this in His Word:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…

2 Peter 3:9a

Hittin me with that truth stick.

The Lord is not slow like I think He is. His patience is for me.

It’s humorous to me how I think that I know better than God. That I think He just needs to get with the program and move at my pace. That He is just holding out on me because He feels like it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth is that God is still God, and God is still good. He is patient with a crabby little sinner like me. He gives goodness for the good of His people, to the glory of His name. He who has promised is faithful, and His promise will come to pass as He sees fit.

And you know what His promise is? Jesus. Redemption through the blood of His Son. Restoration with Him for eternity.

I can take my badge of busyness off – I can stop working so hard to control my circumstances and my feelings and my future and all other things – and rest in the security I have in Christ.

I can put on the badge of Christ and “let the peace of Christ rule in (my) heart” [Colossians 3:15], knowing that my busyness doesn’t save me. My calendar is not my savior. My good deeds do not redeem me.

Christ redeems me, and that’s the only badge I need on my vest.

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