Category Archives: Identity

thirty one.

Today is not my birthday.

I really love birthdays, so I just want to be super clear about that.

Today, however, IS the one year anniversary (can we call it that?) of the surprise party that my dearest friends planned and schemed and threw for me to celebrate my 30th. It was the greatest, most beautiful Saturday surprise a girl could’ve asked for. I still have the balloons hanging on my apartment wall.

Exhibit A – taken 5 minutes ago.

I thought I was going to help my friend’s mom with a technological task, and then people started yelling at me. It was amazing. And terrifying. If you’re actual friends with me, you can see pictures and video of said terrifying evidence on my social media. If you’re not, well, then, just picture the most uncomfortable-in-their-skin person you know. Now picture them being the center of attention for a significant amount of time.

Needless to say, I took a really good nap after.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about now. Thirty one. Well, at least, entering in to 31 and saying goodbye to 30.

The distance between July 13, 2019 and July 13, 2020 seems immeasurably more than 366 days (thanks, Leap Year). There has been so much undoing and putting back together. So much hoped for and so much lost. So much despair and so much longing. So much mourning, and yet, so much joy.

I thought I knew exactly where my life was heading. I literally had the Pinterest board to press go on and release the planning for the rest of my life.

And then it all just kind of unraveled.


Late last year, I came across this image:

By Scott Erickson. Click here for his Instagram & art!

It’s from an artist that practices a form of prayer called vision divina – essentially, we look at an image and allow Holy Spirit to speak to us through what we’re seeing. The caption/prayer that goes along with this one is: May I be gifted with loved ones who remember who I am when I forget; because I will forget.

There was a lot of forgetting who I am over the course of year 30. Not in a dramatic pre-midlife-crisis kind of forgetting. But a slow, opening of my hand, letting go of tightly held beliefs about myself and my convictions. Nothing that anyone on the outside of my life would have really noticed. Just a steady drip of giving up what I had hoped for in lieu of a fine-enough replacement.

For those that care, I am an enneagram 6. I question everything. But I don’t think I’ve questioned myself more than I did in 2019. The fact that my friends are still my friends after all of the merry-go-round conversations I had with them is a testament to their kindness toward me. Because y’all, I know I was not awesome to be around at times.

And yet, they said hello to 30 with me and will say goodbye to it with me as well.

More than the forgetting of who I am, they were there to remind me. To double down and say things like, “You are brave. The Lord has good things for you. You are not alone. You have a crew of people of your side. You are loved. You are seen. You are God’s Beloved.”

They were there to help set me on the path to what continues to be a better version of Kayla than a year ago.

While a surprise party to kick off year 30 was truly the best of times, the best part is what it continues to be: an ebenezer stone to commemorate a room full of people that remember who I am when I forget; because I forget.

May we all be gifted with the Lord’s kindness through His Spirit and His people to be seen, known, and loved in all of our glorious mess. And may we all be willing to lean in and let people remember and remind us of who we are when we forget; because we will forget.

Tagged ,

a time to sow

A few weeks ago a friend asked if she could call me her farmer friend. “If someone asks, ‘Where’d you learn that?’ I can say, ‘my Farmer Friend Kayla told me!'” To which I said, “Absolutely. I am your farmer friend.”

My parents may get a kick out of that one because the 14 year old that complained every time she was told to weed the garden did not expect to ever lay claim to the title of ‘farmer friend’ in adulthood. She wanted to flee the 90+ acre plot of land and make sure she always brought her nice jeans back with her whenever she visited so she wouldn’t have to do ‘farmer friend’ type of work.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to farming and planting and growing and all the outside things that I grew up around. There is definitely something spiritual about getting your body outside and your hands in the dirt.

Scripture has a lot to say about the agricultural process. Historically, it makes sense, because the people the words of the Bible were written to were agricultural people. They didn’t have Twitter or blogs or digital billboards. So, good on you God for meeting Your people where they were at!

Books can be (and have been) filled with the connection between the land and our spiritual lives. It is good – as a farmer – to let your land rest so that it can replenish and continue to produce. It is good – as a human – to let your body rest so that it can replenish and continue to produce. See where I’m going?

But the earth-to-spirit line that God keeps bringing into my mind is that there is a time to sow and a time to reap. A time to plant and a time to uproot.

Right now, seeds and plants are in the ground. A few weeks ago, all you could see was the dirt that covered them. As days progress and the seed dies in order to reproduce, tiny sprouts begin to emerge. It will be quite a while before any of the things that went into the ground give us something that we can pick, wash, and eat/enjoy.

In many ways, this is exactly what is happening in our lives. Right now is a time to sow into our hearts/bodies/minds/spirits/homes/etc. I feel so deeply that Jesus is inviting us to plant Him into the soil of our lives, cover Him up with dirt, and let Him do a work. What better time than now – the season of spring, where new life is budding up all around us – to let our Redeemer bury Himself into us and see what happens. As we will do with our plants, we check in every day: How’s the soil? Does it need water? How are the plants? Do they need pruned? What do the leaves look like? Are there bugs? Disease? Things that need to be guarded against?

And as we put in the time to tend the earth around us, as well as tend to our own lives, we will see a harvest. It won’t be tomorrow. I can promise that. Nothing real and valuable grows that fast. But we will see a harvest.

So, sow. Press in. Let Jesus take root in your life and see what kind of fruit comes to the surface.

Tagged , , ,

proving myself

Well, this one has been sitting in my drafts folder, just titled and all alone, for a week. I’ve tried to stay away from it but alas, here we are.

A week ago I got the keyboard out to start writing this one based on a cycle I was stuck in with a friend. You see, I have this really fun tendency to over-explain myself in every sense of the word. It’s almost like I feel like I’m going to get caught even though I know I’ve done nothing wrong. So, when I’m not in a healthy place emotionally, I jump on my wordy hamster wheel and just talk and talk and talk myself around whatever I’m doing.

Luckily, I have really great people in my life and the one I was spiraling with stopped me and said, “Stop trying to prove yourself to me. You’re fine. I trust you.”

And man, what a relief that was. To have people who know the path you’re headed down and can keep you from it is such a gift.

The bummer is that this isn’t the first time my friend(s) have had to say something like that. But again, the gift is that they do. And so it seemed the cycle had halted.

Enter: Saturday.

I visited my family to celebrate my Grandma’s 92nd birthday and while I was there my sister, nephew, boyfriend, and I went for a lil’ afternoon hangout sesh at the local watering hole. One of the beautifully awful things about growing up in a small town is that everyone knows everyone and you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you grew up with. I say it’s beautifully awful because 1) what a gift to be in such a tight knit community, but 2) what a terror to know that everyone knows everything about who you were from ages 0-18/19/20.

So naturally, in walks someone I went to high school and played sports with. I introduced her to my boyfriend and immediately said, “We played basketball together and she was better than me.”

Cue my insides exploding.

Here I was again, trying to – in a backwards way – prove myself. I had to get it out there that I knew my place and I knew that she was better than me but it didn’t bother me (except oh yes it did). I could feel the 17 year old in me writhing with insecurity as this person got the recognition I longed for. All those years of trying to prove myself on the court, in the classroom, with the friend groups came flying back into the present and they were not.fun.

I laughed it off with my sister, rolled my eyes at myself, and went back to staring at my nephew because little boys are the cure for everything.

When I returned home and back to my normal life, recounting the weekend with a friend, she mentioned a similar instance from her weekend. She said, “It was like I was on the outside and I couldn’t figure out how to get in.”

And with that I exclaimed a loud, “YES! SAME!”

But here’s the kicker with it all: I am absolutely in love with where I am “in” in my life. God has been so kind to place me on the inside of so many beautiful relationships, and honestly, He has also been so kind in keeping me on the outside of others. Yet, the insecurity of knowing I’m on the outside of some places can be so deafening at times. Having physical voices loud enough to drown out the lies of the enemy has truly proven to be God’s grace poured out on my life.

I have no idea how to end this blog. No real bow to tie around it. It’s just a lot of strewn together thoughts about how destructive the urge to prove myself can be.

And for now, that’s totally fine.

Tagged ,

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.

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged , , ,