Category Archives: Identity

mourning motherhood

mourning motherhood.png

For as long as I can remember, Mother’s Day service at the church I grew up in always looked the same. The pastor would ask the moms in the room to stand up. They would, and everyone would clap. Then he would proceed to figure out which mom had the most kids by asking women to sit down if they had less than X number of children. By process of elimination, our congregation would celebrate the mother of the most children and she would be presented with a beautiful floral arrangement. Then the same process would occur to figure out which mom was the oldest AND which mom was the youngest, and both would receive a flower to take home and set as a center piece for Sunday dinner.

We were in the business of celebrating moms.

From an early age I knew that to be celebrated as a woman I needed to have children.

And I don’t say that in a prideful way.
I’m not fishing for applause, nor do I intend to have an “everyone come see how good I look!” attitude.

Simply put, I knew my value in the church and society would increase as soon as I had a kid.

So imagine 17-year-old Kayla mapping her life out.
Married by 22, 23 at the latest.
First child by 25, cause ya know…let’s be married for at least a couple of years before we have kids.
Be done growing my brood by 32.

And here I am.
Almost 29.
No marriage.
No kids.

The dreams I had for myself 12 years ago left unfulfilled.

And I’m not the only one. I know many people who have had to mourn the loss of the dreams they had for themselves. Whether focused on marriage, career, being a parent…whatever it may be. We all have things that we desire that have not come to pass.

And it’s okay to mourn those things.
It’s okay to feel deep sorrow for something you’ve never had.
To feel a sense of loss and sadness over something that was never yours to begin with is okay. In fact, I think it’s natural.

Especially when we’ve believed the lie that the thing we’re mourning is somehow attached to our value.

And yes, it is a lie. Straight from the mouth of the enemy.
It’s a lie for anyone, anywhere, in any context to tell you (or even show you by their reaction, or lack of) that your value is tied to an.y.thing other than Jesus.

If you find yourself with people – or in a community – that try to tell you that you can’t be fully who you are because you don’t have a husband/child/higher paying job/boots with the fur, you lovingly tell them to shut the H up.*

Be with people who, along with the Holy Spirit, help redeem the lies that have been spoken into your life.

A BIG PRAISE & AMEN for the way God has softened the ground of my heart and given me so many people who speak truth over my life. And not only speak it, but by their actions are in the process of redeeming so much of what has been broken over the years.

People who:

  • 2 weeks after their child is born and we’re in a crowded room say, “Here, take him while I go do something…” And let me snuggle their little one for what feels like an eternity.
  • trust me enough to stay overnight with their kids so they can go on a marriage retreat.
  • are honest with me when I ask them what it’s like to raise three boys and how they teach their kids to live off their own faith and not mom & dad’s.
  • invite me into their lives by sharing the joyous news of a new baby and remind me that they want me to be a part of their kid’s life.
  • let me sit on the floor of their nursery while they put their baby to sleep.
  • tell me that they feel safe and comfortable when I hold their daughter and, as I walk up, basically throw her at me because their arms need a break.
  • affirm the voice that I have with their kids and trust that I love their children and want to point them to Jesus.
  • when I ask them about their lives, they don’t just talk about their kids. They talk about themselves. Because that’s what I’ve asked about. And we can share life as people whose identities are rooted in Jesus, not the other labels that we carry.

You see, I’ve mourned “natural” motherhood for myself up to this point in my life. But I don’t really have to mourn all of what motherhood is because I have people in my life that value me. Kayla. They see me and love me and affirm who God has made me to be. They call me to good and ask me to do the same of them, and their kids.

For all the non-mom’s out there today, or any day really, know that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to mourn that which you do not have. But also know that it’s okay to fight for community that not only allows, but asks, for you to live out the way God has made you as woman. Whatever that might look like.

And know that if we were to be in a church together and the pastor asked all the mom’s to stand up, I would clap for them, but then I would stand up and shout, “All women, rise!” and I would throw out candy because that’s usually better than flowers anyways 🙂

*but seriously, do it lovingly, not with anger or bitterness or trying to beat them at their own game. and if you need to take a beat, call me, then chat with them about it, feel free!

 

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worst case scenario

new life belongs to those that are in Him..png

Have you ever seen the movie Inside Out?
If not, stop what you’re doing, go watch it, then come back and finish reading this blog.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

….

Awesome. Welcome back.

l.o.v.e. that movie. So so much. It’s funny. It makes me feel good. And there’s finally an animated character other than Pocahontas that I can relate to. Her name is Sadness.

Sadness is…well…sad. She likes to point out the dread in everything. She makes the other emotions aware of the worst case scenario in an attempt to be helpful throughout their shenanigans.

One of my favorites to illustrate the point even further:

Sadness: It’s long-term memory…you’ll get lost in there!
Joy: C’mon! Think positive!
Sadness: Okay…I’m positive you’ll get lost in there!

I’ve been known to say very similar things in my lifetime.

ANYWAYS.

I can be like Sadness sometimes. I have this superpower of always being able to play out the worst case scenario, no matter the situation, in about .41 seconds.

It’s a gift, I tell ya.

But recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about what my actual worst case scenario is.
God originally planted this little whisper in my ear about a year ago, but He has been speaking it louder and louder over the past few weeks.

And here it is:

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

That’s it.
The worst thing that could actually happen to me is new life.
Redemption.
Resurrection.
Eternity with the One who created me, sustains me, and loves me with a steadfast, everlasting love.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t feel the effects of sin and brokenness in our world.
I do feel them.
I feel them for myself.
I feel them for others.
I/we experience that which we were not originally meant to experience: death.

But.
Guess what comes after death.

Resurrection.
New life.
Complete wholeness, the way it was meant to be.

This Holy Week, in reading through the multiple accounts of Jesus the Christ’s death, it’s clear that He dies.

He has to.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

When he cried out “it is finished” on the cross, the Greek word is “tetelestai” – literally meaning to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill.

The Savior of the world declared it was finished and gave up his spirit.
He declared the reign of darkness had ended.
Light has come.
His complete work had been accomplished.

And he died.

But…Sunday is coming.
Resurrection is His.
New life belongs to those that are in Him.

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

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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?

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

dwelling-in-2016

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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