Category Archives: Identity

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

blessing blog

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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dwelling in 2016

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Well my friends, we have reached day 366 of the year 2016. At least that’s what my big ole wall calendar tells me. I don’t want to do any research beyond that, so if I’m wrong, just let me be wrong. Leap year, right?

Anyways.

For the past few years, rather than making a New Year’s resolution, I’ve chosen a word or theme for the coming year – what I hope to learn, settle in to, or be intentional about in the days ahead. For 2016, that word was dwell.

According to the people who make up meanings for words, dwell means: to live or continue in a given condition or state; to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing.

As I entered in to 2016, I wanted to figure out what dwelling with God, myself, and others could look like. To live or continue in a state of rejoicing or mourning with those I care about. To linger over what the Lord was doing in my life, and not freak the heck out about it. To ponder anew what the Almighty can do if I just sit and continue with Him.

I wanted to ask, is this a relationship worth me dwelling in? Is open, honest life with this person a mutual calling to good, or one-sided exploitation that does both of us harm?

And ultimately, I wanted to sit in this question: If all I ever do is dwell with the One who came to dwell with us – if Jesus is all I ever get – is that enough?

You know how when they say if you pray for patience, be ready to experience opportunities to practice patience? Well, same principle applies.

2016 was full of opportunities to let life get the best of me. To be anxious and afraid and feel a lot of crap that the enemy wanted to use against me. Sometimes dwell was the last thing I wanted to do – unless it was dwelling in my bedroom, under the covers, with my eyelids shut tight.

Many times I felt a stirring in my heart/soul/insides/whatever that made me restless, itchy, anxious, and afraid. Insecurities I thought had been put to bed came bubbling back up. The opposite of dwelling seemed like the easier choice so often in the past 365 days.

But the most amazing thing happened.
I stuck around.
I continued in the state I was given.

And God didn’t leave me.
My friends didn’t leave me.
I was able to dwell in the midst of some disruptive crapitty-crap and I am coming out the other side still alive.

There are marked moments of God showing up, helping me to dwell and to settle in to life, disrupted, but not shaken by the world around me.
He allowed for words to be spoken to me that applied an instant salve on my heart.
He illuminated His mercy for me in new ways that left me speechless.
He dwelled with me throughout the entire time, not leaving me on the rickety boat alone, but stuck around, hoisting the sails, bailing water that came in over the sides, making sure that if nothing else, we stayed afloat.

Even though today is the last day of the year and most resolutions are resolved, I think this whole dwell thing has really only begun. Today – right now – Jesus is enough. Other days, honestly, it doesn’t seem like He is. But the best part about dwelling with Him is that, even when I tell Him that I don’t believe He’s enough, He still sticks around.

I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings – the joy and hope in what God is up to, the depth of relationship He will continue to grow, and the promise He is the God that will never leave or forsake us growing more and more true in my life.

Now, I need to go pack my gold sparkly heels (that I will have officially worn for the 3rd time in 4 years after tonight). I’ve got a wedding to go to and a rug to cut.

Smith out.

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bad for my soul

bad for my soul

This one’s been stewing in my head for a couple weeks.

I was in a coffee shop not long ago shootin the breeze with a friend, like ya do, and I mentioned a movie that I had recently seen. It was just bad. Just a bad movie. I saw things and heard phrases that shouldn’t have been exposed to my eyes and brain.

And, hear me, I’m not a hyper-conservative viewer of entertainment. I watch movies that have cuss words and dark story lines and are not necessarily something I would take my Grandma to see.

But this one was just bad. It exposed me to things my soul just didn’t need to be exposed to – reintroduced my brain to sin patterns that God had healed me from years ago, and in an instant produced unhealthy guilt and shame that I hadn’t felt in quite a while.

As I said to my friend, “oooohhhh DON’T see that! It was NOT good!” she responded with, “But did you think it would be?”

My honest answer – no. No I did not. I knew it would be bad.
My answer to my friend – “Well…I can handle quite a bit…I thought I could handle it…I’m usually able to deal with that kind of stuff…”

What a load of crap.

I was justifying my indulgence in a coping mechanism – to escape, to laugh, to pretend like I am immune to the tactics of the enemy.

This past week, another friend and I were talking about how easy it is to have our minds just flat out messed with. She can look at a post of someone selling their house on Facebook and immediately be thrown into insecurities of never being able to afford something like that, and not having the house she’s always wanted that has the carriage house her blogger friend can live in, and not being able to live in a good school district, and basically screwing up her children-that-she-doesn’t-have-yet’s lives because she can only afford half of what her friend is asking for their house.

I can look at a friend’s family photos on Facebook and cry because I don’t have what is so perfectly portrayed on the computer screen.
I can browse Pinterest for wedding ideas, planning the perfect day for my to-be husband and I, and then wonder why I’m struggling with loneliness and being single.

I think sometimes we like to think that our minds are completely fine and protected and NOTHING CAN GET IN HERE BECAUSE JESUS. But I’m coming to find more and more that while yes, God does protect us, I think He also desires for us to desire good things. When I know something will not be good for my soul, I don’t need to watch it. When I know Instagram will make me doubt God’s goodness, I need to stay off of it. If I know before I even start it, that the thing I’m getting ready to watch/read/do/experience will push me farther from Christ, I need to flee from it.

I’m glad I have people around me that ask, “But did you think it would be?”
Because that pushes me to think – to think about what I’m exposing my soul to. To think about honoring who I am and Who Jesus is with what I put into my brain and body.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

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why wait until Monday?

why wait

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’ll start on Monday.”
Or decided to take on a new lifestyle habit (diet, exercise, etc.) and used that phrase yourself?

Just me?

Okay. Well. I’ll just talk to myself then.

I’ve been undisciplined in writing lately. I feel uninspired and dull and like I have nothing to say. And that’s not true. I have things to say, I’m just nervous about saying them. Nervous about revealing just a little too much and pushing people away. Nervous about saying something offensive and never recovering a relationship from it.

The enemy has been, quite frankly, pissing me off lately. So I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to pull out my sword and start cutting him down.

Starting tomorrow (not Monday) I’m going to read and write my way through the Psalms. The Psalms are my favorite (hhaaaayyy emotions!!) and I haven’t read through them in a while. And I want to do that in this space, with you.

I don’t know if I’m going to get through all 150 without missing a beat, but I do know that it’s going to be a regular, daily practice for me. And doing it here will keep me accountable. So I’m giving you that permission. Give me a big, virtual smack in the face if you have to!

This is me saying, why wait until Monday? Thursday is a good day to start something too.

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suck it, February

Holland

I’ll be the first one to say it: February sucks.
I really don’t like it.
Praise Jehovah it’s the shortest month on our calendar.

It’s so dark & cold & usually wet with snow, ice, or just cold water in general. It’s dreary and lonesome. The holidays are over. There’s nothing to look forward to.

February sucks.

It is historically my hardest month. I think I cry more tears in February than I do in other months. I definitely know this February I did.

One of the reasons I think it sucks is that it comes right after January – a month of fresh starts and new hopes for the year. It comes right after a time of renewal – when we pledge that this year is THE YEAR we will see X, Y, and Z through. We promise ourselves we won’t fail this time around. That we have changed. We are better people than we were last year.

And then…

FEBRUARY.

We have failed. We stopped before we ever really got started. We haven’t changed and we aren’t better people.

February reminds me that I am incapable of being my own savior – and that is hard. Mainly because I have control & trust issues & still sinfully hold on to the thought that God doesn’t want me if I don’t come to Him clean.

February has seen some high spots too. My most fun Galentine’s to date (bar’s raised, 2017…). New friendships developed & strengthened. My first car payment cleared the bank. But overall, not the greatest month I’ve ever had.

This February I have felt my loneliness in deeper ways that I have in a while. I have felt the enemy attack me in ways I thought he couldn’t touch anymore. I have felt like a failure in my job & to my friends.

Have I mentioned that February sucks?

But, praise God, today is March 5th. And you know what that means? February is over.
The despair of the month no longer has a hold on me.

February is like the darkness of my sin. It is like the valley the psalmists write about over & over. It is this heavy feeling that never seems to go away.

And March. Well, March is like Jesus. March brings newness. March brings promise that what is will not always be. March reminds me that the grave is open & Christ is risen! March signals the end of darkness & the beginning of new light.

I know March isn’t technically spring, but it is spring for my soul. It brings forth new hope that, even though I failed after January, February ends.

Jesus brings forth hope that, even though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. That in Him I am a new creation – the old, broken, failed, marred person is gone, and behold, the new has come.

March reminds me that the calendar moves forward. That Jesus moves forward & cleanses me of all unrighteousness.

I can claim my security in Christ because He has once & for all redeemed me – failure and all.

I don’t want to hope in my ability to muster up enough strength to make it through. I want my hope to be built on Christ alone. Not just resting on, but built upon Jesus. That His mercies are new every morning & my past sin, darkness, failures, etc. are forgotten by the Spotless One.

Perfect redemption is for you & me, today.
March is here.
February can suck it.

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revive me again

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Chances are I’ve probably already written about the Psalm I’m going to write about tonight. But if I can’t remember it, I doubt you can. And if you do, then, dddaaannnnggg, thanks for supporting a sister!

A couple summers ago I heard a sermon on Psalm 85 that rocked me to my core. So much so, I still have my notes from that Sunday [although, that’s probably not much of a shocker to those that know me well…]. And turns out, it was the day before my birthday that year! #blessed

I’ve read and read and re-read that Psalm so many times since. In it, the psalmist does a few things:

  1. Reminds the Lord of what He has done
  2. Begs for revival
  3. Reminds himself of what the Lord has done & that He is capable & willing to do it again

I find this pattern necessary in my life. I need to remind God of what He has done in my life, and in doing so, I’m reminding myself of His past faithfulness – that God has showed up in my life on countless occasions. That He is a God that loves and is for His people.

It reminds me that I need to keep showing up. I need to beg for revival. I remember ever so clearly what the preacher said that Sunday morning. Verses 6 & 7 say, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.”

The preacher then said, “Ask for that. Beg for that. Beg for God to revive you again so that you may rejoice in Him! And when the answer is no, for today, get up again tomorrow and ask again! Continue to show up with God; fight for the revival in your soul.”

OKAY FINE! I WILL!

But then I don’t.
I fight for a couple days, then I decide the fight isn’t worth it.
I beg for a while, but then I get tired of begging m.
I want instant, blatant satisfaction. I’m not willing to wait on the Lord and thirst for God the way the psalmists did.

But the good news is that God is still God, and God is still good. Even on the days when I don’t ask Him for His goodness.

He will revive His people again, so that we may rejoice in Him.

There’s so much to be said about the words penned in the 85th psalm, but the simplest thing to say is that it’s all for His glory. Revival of my soul is not for my temporary happiness or earthly satisfaction. It is for God and God alone. “Yes, the Lord will give what is good.” (v12) And the ultimate good is Himself.

So, I pray for that tonight, tomorrow, in the coming days – that He may revive me again, so that I may rejoice in Him.

 

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done with the quick fix

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I remember being a young person – around 10 years old – and someone walking up to me, poking me in the stomach, and giggling like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I kinda smirked and laughed it away, but inside I felt this sense of, “Yep. This is who I am. I’m the fat, funny one that everyone can poke and laugh at. This is the life I’m made to live.”

I was an athletic kid. I’ve basically always been the shortest on any team, but when I started ‘filling out’ people started poking me. And challenging me to pizza eating contests and laughing when I would win.

Fast forward a few years. I’m in high school where looks matter and if you don’t have looks, well, hopefully you’re willing to lean in hard to self-deprecating humor so you can make the joke before others, that way it doesn’t hurt as bad, ya know.

I made my friends by being the non-threatening chubby girl that would boost their ego, gossip about whoever they were gossiping about, and eat whatever they put in front of me because they “bet I really couldn’t eat that too!”

When I got to college it was time for a new me. I was playing softball, working out twice a day with my team, eating in a college cafeteria (which basically means you don’t eat because it’s gross), and making changes. That lasted about as long as it takes for someone to binge Making a Murderer – I ended up leaving the softball team and spiraling into loneliness and depression. And food. Because, ya know, that’s who I am – the chubby one.

The one that isn’t worthy of love. Or friendship. Or identity outside of a Pillsbury Dough Boy chuckle.


 

The thing about being a human is that, unless you are old (like 99, I think), you are probably going to struggle with the questions of, “Who am I with/without this thing/person/place? What am I supposed to do with my life? Where does my identity lie?”

At 24, I was still working through a pretty big heartbreak, finding out who my friends were and what Godly friendship looked like, and struggling with the ‘fact’ that no man could ever love me if I weighed what I weighed. I was going to the gym, working out at least three times a week, and still the girl that every guy saw as just-a-friend. And I was convinced it was because I was overweight.

I was living in this world that tells me I have to operate like The Biggest Loser. That if I’m not losing 13-27 pounds a week, I’m not trying hard enough. I believed that this transformation of body, heart, and mind was going to be as easy as 3 hours in a gym every week. If a quick-fix couldn’t fix me, nothing could.

I would work out and eat well for a solid period of time, get on the scale, and see little to no change. Then I would go right back to the chips and cheese and pasta and guilt and shame and worthlessness that entrapped me to begin with.

And I would do that with the sin in my life as well. I would muster up enough Kayla-strength to hold back acting on temptations, and as soon as I fell back in to sin, more guilt, shame, worthlessness, etc. flooded my life.

I desired a quick fix of my exterior appearance but wasn’t willing to do the hard work on the inside – exposing my sin before my Creator and allowing Him to remove the weight of sin in my life.

The issue? The way I viewed myself. The way I believed that no one could ever love me because of my weight. The way that I doubted God’s goodness for me because I wasn’t under 150 pounds. The way that I still let food and comfort control how I lived my life.


 

It’s now February 2016 and I’m 26 years old. I don’t let people poke me in the stomach any more. I try not to let food be my source of comfort (all of the time – as you’ve probably figured out if you’ve ever at any time read this blog, I love queso. And bacon.) I have friends that love me enough to say, “You will be okay. I will help you. We will help each other. You are not these lies you believe about yourself.”

I do believe that I can live my life in a healthy way – exercising and eating so that I can glorify God in my body, not to make my body or the scale my god.

I no longer believe that I need to lose 30 pounds in 30 minutes.

What I do believe, and what I’m learning, is that I am a beloved child of God. That I am loved, not only by God, but by people who see me for who God has made me. And I believe that all of life and all of sanctification is meant to be learned and grown in throughout all of life. I’m learning that giving myself grace is a process, and by shedding the guilt and shame that comes with trying and not succeeding, so going back to the same old habits, I’m shedding more weight than a literal pound can represent.


 

This past weekend I was at a baby shower of one of my best friends. Last April I celebrated another best and the impending arrival of her little one. 9 months apart the three of us took the same picture.

The biggest difference? I now see someone who is learning that her identity isn’t in her weight. Her identity isn’t in how her clothes look on her. Her identity isn’t in how many miles she can or cannot run without walking.

Her identity is in her Maker – who made her and calls her His, perfectly, whole, and without blemish.

“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”-Psalm 51: 6-7, 10

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learning to dwell

dwell

For the past few years I’ve done this pretty cool (to me, at least) thing where I pick a word or theme of the year. One year it was discipline, last year it was #toshowingup, and this year it is “dwell.”

I think we can all agree that the only thing most of us resolve to do is not follow through on our New Year’s resolutions, so, in place of that, a friend introduced me to choosing a word/theme for the year.

I like the consistency of learning how to implement a theme over the course of the year. I enjoy the process way more than the outcome. AND it’s a lot less pressure than having to stop drinking coffee and go to the gym 8 days a week starting January 1.

So here we are, 2016, and I’m going to dwell.

I want to learn what it means to be in the present with God and myself.

I want to stop being anxious over uncontrollable circumstances.

I want to know deep in my soul that my identity and value are unshakable in Christ.

I want to dwell in the presence of my Maker, resting in His goodness alone.

Merriam-Webster defines dwell as a verb that means, “to remain for a time.”

It is active, yet it is passive. You have to make the choice to remain somewhere.

It’s easy for me to talk about rest, and dwelling, and sitting, and remaining. It’s a WHOLE ‘NOTHER BALL GAME for me to actually do it for a time.

I’m decent at dwelling for a day or so, when it’s convenient for me. But this year, this go ’round, I want to dwell forever. I want the time to not have a frame – I want to be with Jesus and remain in Him.

I doubt I’ll have this whole dwelling thing figured out by 2017. If I do, maybe you could take me out for queso and I’ll tell you all the secret things.

But I am excited about what 2017 will look like because I will have dwelt with the Savior. I will continue to learn more and more every day what it means to have my identity anchored in the Unchangeable One.

This year will be one for the books (blogs) and I’m excited to share it with you.

*what is God calling you to in this coming year? Is there a theme or word you can own for 2016?

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my choice of gods

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A couple of my personal gods are represented in the picture above. Well, now that I think about it, probably 3.

No, five.

5 of my gods are represented in this picture. If you want to know what they are, we’ll talk about it later. I don’t have time to get in to specifics here! A blog must be written!

I woke up this morning, watched an episode of One Tree Hill, then decided to put some real pants on and go downstairs. I had plans for today – plans that included being as isolated and lazy as possible. But then, I noticed my Bible.

There it was, sitting on the arm of my chair, staring me down.

And my plans changed. I decided to choose the Word this morning.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Of course you did. You’re a Christian. You love Jesus. That’s what you’re supposed to do…read your Bible, fool!”

But I don’t always make that choice. Most often, I choose to love other gods. I choose to love relationship status, finances, friendships, knowledge, approval…all the things. I choose myself. I decide that there is a god better for me than the One True God. I decide that I AM is not enough.

Without even really recognizing it, I line all of my little gods up every morning and decide which one I will serve that day.

It might be power on Monday, control on Tuesday, approval Wednesday, food Thursday, finances on Friday, then I get to Jesus on Saturday and Sunday.

We all have to come to a point in our lives where we wake up, every morning, and choose Jesus. He isn’t the type of Savior that is going to force Himself on His people. Jesus isn’t in the business of bullying people in to the Kingdom. BUT He is in the business of redeeming sinners. He is in the business of providing comfort, peace, healing, and joy. He is in the business of changing hearts from stone to flesh and convicting His children of their sin.

Jesus is in the business of making Himself known and bringing His Father glory.

I want to be a part of that business. I want to choose redemption and love and joy and peace and all of the other words we like to throw around at Christmas time.

I want to choose a God that loves me so much He sent His own Son to become flesh – to walk the earth He created – in order to die as the Perfect Lamb, rise on the third day, and save His people from their sins.

Will this be an automatic for me? No. It won’t. As Paul says in Romans 7, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (v.19)

Will this be possible? Yes. Because it is by grace that I have been saved – not of my works but by the final work of Jesus on the cross.

The satisfaction, fullness, and restoration that only Jesus can offer is the only thing I want.

Today, I choose Jesus.

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pass on over, please

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One of my favorite things about the internet is that there is a never ending supply of stuff.

Just stuff, in general.

This week I opened my computer with the intention looking up a recipe and I ended up watching youtube videos of Tina Fey.

Stuff.

OR I have an issue with staying focused.

Who knows.

But seriously, that stuff can end up being really good stuff. Take, for instance, all of the amazing resources we have to learn and grow in our knowledge of God and His Word.

One of my favorite websites for this specific purpose is SheReadsTruth. I love the reading plans they come up with and the commentary they have on each passage read together.

Currently, SheReadsTruth is going through an Advent reading. Today’s reading was on Jesus being the True & Better Passover Lamb.

If you have not heard/read the story of the Passover, I HIGHLY encourage you to read Exodus 12 and get yourself familiar.

The first passover occurred when God commanded His people in Egypt to sacrifice a lamb,  spread it’s blood over their doors, and God passed over them, sparing them from death in their household.

Jesus is the True & Better Passover Lamb because His blood has made the final, once and for all, atonement for our sins. We are seen as righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

Blows. My. Mind. Every time.

In reading through the devotional material on SheReadsTruth, I came to this:

More often than not, I live under the weight of my own sin, as if Christ’s sacrifice isn’t enough to cover my own transgressions. I look around frantically for solutions to fix what I have broken, but overcorrecting only leads me to legalism – the opposite of freedom in Christ.

“Overcorrecting only leads me to legalism…”

Man. Yep. Ditto, sister.

Jesus is True and Better and Final and Forever. I can do no more and no less to earn His love or His redemption. It simply is.

I fail. I sin. I rebel against an Almighty God.

But I cannot dig myself out of that. I cannot correct my own ways. And trying to only leads to self-reliance and a belief that Jesus isn’t good enough. That somehow, His blood shed upon a cross just won’t cut it for me.

I may say I believe with my mouth, but my actions are speaking something totally different.

I want the freedom only Christ provides. Because I know it is there that I am truly able to rest in true satisfaction and live with deep peace and joy that can never be shaken.

That is my prayer for us – that we would know Jesus is True & Better.

*see Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy explain Passover before you go read about it 

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