psalm 34

psalm 34
Have you ever seen the movie, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story?
That’s what I feel like a lil bit, not having written in a hot minute.
And if you haven’t – go watch it right now. One of the more underrated animated movies of 1993.
Back to the point, Smith.
Hello, world. We continue with your regularly scheduled programming of a look through the Psalms.
Psalm 34.
The header of this psalm in most Bibles is: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good.
If I could describe my greatest desire for the people in my life, it is that they would taste and see that the Lord is good.
A few years ago I had the honor of being on a panel at my church, discussing the importance of reading scripture and why it is such an important part of my relationship with God.
One of the final questions asked was, “What draws you in to Scripture?”
My answer, through tears, was, “I’ve experienced Jesus and I’ve experienced His goodness, and I can’t stay away. I am changed. I am a different person because of the truth of Scripture.”
And the truth is, I truly am a different person because of Jesus.
His Word changes me.
The angel of the Lord encamps around me and delivers me.
The Lord is near to me – the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
He delivers me out of all afflictions.
But the trouble in my heart comes when I read David writing things like, “I will bless the Lord at all times…My soul makes its boast in the Lord…”
Because that is def.in.ite.ly not true of me.
Often, I bless myself.
I boast in my own accomplishments.
OR (and this one cuts deep) I wallow in my own self-pity.
My woe-is-me temperament takes full control and all I want to do is sit in a pit of despair, begging for others to join me in my demise.
But then.
I consider Jesus.
And I know in the deepest part of my soul that He truly is near to the brokenhearted.
As Peter said, “Lord, where else should I go? You have the words of eternal life!”
I know David’s words to be true.
I know that God is nearer than any.
I know that He is truer than any.
I know that His mercies are new every morning.
I know that He is more steadfast than I can even wrap my brain around.
And yet.
I doubt His goodness.
Often, because I’ve lost my taste.
I’ve decided to eat the bread that the world offers instead of feasting from the Bread of Life.
On good days, I can proclaim with full confidence that I will hunger no more because of the sustenance that God offers through redemption in Jesus.
On bad days, I can softly whisper that I am fighting to reach the crumbs on the floor – crawling to get back to Jesus’ table side – because I know that only there will I find fullness of life.
But the crawl might give me scrapes on my knees.
The effort often seems too daunting.
It’s hard to comprehend that it’ll be worth it.
Yet.
I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
So I’m going to keep fighting for that meal.
Cut up knees and all, I want to keep tasting and seeing that the Lord truly is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 34
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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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my silence vs. God (psalm 33)

psalm 33

I’ve had writer’s block for a few weeks now.
When I say “writer’s block” what I mean is “laziness.”

I just haven’t put in the discipline. Which seems to be a theme over the past few months. Not just in writing, but sometimes in life.

I came across this note in my phone from September 6, 2017: “My silence won’t keep God from being God.”

I truly have zero context around why I wrote this note in my phone on that night. I mean, it’s good truth, but I have no clue what inspired that truth to come out. ‘Cept Holy Spirit, of course.

Then, I come to tonight, and by my meticulous bookkeeping abilities (meaning I can look on a website and see what the last psalm I wrote about was…) I see that up in the order of psalms is numero thirty-three. All about the steadfast love of the Lord.

Remember when I said that discipline is hard for me sometimes?
Remember when I said that my silence won’t keep God from being God?

I can get into this mode of thinking that if I give God the cold shoulder He’ll shape up and bend toward my preferences and desires. That, if I give Him the silent treatment, He’ll start paying more attention to me. I get frustrated and stubborn, wondering why He just won’t figure.it.outand get with my program.

My hope moves away from God and toward my silence.
I put my trust in my passive aggressiveness and cease to rely on the steadfast love of the Lord.
I lose joy because my mind is more affixed to my name than His holy one.

Then I read a note from 6 months ago.
And read a psalm that is all about God and not about me.

And I’m reminded that my silence doesn’t keep God from being God.
It doesn’t keep Him from being sovereign over all creation.
It doesn’t keep Him from pursuing me.
It doesn’t keep Him from giving me love and grace and mercy, moment by moment throughout each day.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

psalm 33:20-22

I’m so glad that even in my silence, God’s steadfast love doesn’t leave me. I
t is always upon me, always helping me.

Lord, may Your steadfast love always be upon me, especially when I’m a silent little punk who thinks she can have hope in something other than You.

 

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teamwork makes the dream work

teamwork makes the dream work.png

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

lovers.jpg

That’s all I have to contribute to the holiday.

Now.

I was at a conference this past weekend. Some of you may know about it. It’s called the if:Gathering. You can learn more about it here. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with some ladies from my church and came away with quite a bit to think about.

The structure of the conference was: listen to a teaching, talk about it at your table, eat some snacks, repeat. One of the questions that was asked at our table was, What is my dream for my people and my place?

The first thing that came to mind was: team.

Now, being the washed-up athlete that I am, that might not be surprising to most. But more importantly than what first came to mind was the images and feelings I got while I thought through it a little more.

My junior and senior year’s of high school basketball were some of the most fun I had as a player of the sports. It was so much fun to be on the court with my best friends, competing together and having the time of our lives.

One image that kept coming up over and over again this past weekend was our inbound plays – in particular, under-the-basket inbounds plays my senior year.

My friend Brandi and I had the best chemistry under the basket. As guard, I was responsible for getting the ball in play. If the play was busted, Brandi just knew where to cut and when to cut, and I knew she would always be there. I could no-look-bounce-pass Mr. Spaulding into the lane, Brandi would snatch that sucker up, and the LadyCats would have 2 more points added to their total. I never worried about a 5-second violation because I knew Brandi would be there.

We even played in a three-on-three tournament a few years later and did the same. dang. thang. My teammate was there for me.

Knowing each other that well didn’t just occur after one day of practice. We sweat together, bled together, went through hell week together. (side note: have you ever had 2 weeks of Christmas break practice with NO GAMES to play?! it’s the worst. you want to quit everything and just go home to eat Christmas candy.)

And that’s what I want from my people and my place.

I want my team.

I want us to be there for each other.
To anticipate one another’s moves.
To remind and ensure each other that, even if the play is busted, we’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t need to worry about hell week by ourselves because our teammates will be there in it with us.

A year ago I wrote about standing on holy ground with others. How there is something sacred about holding someone else’s story with them. And I’m so thankful that’s how my team has formed.

I know my team holds my story and I feel so thankful that they allow me to hold theirs.
I know we all stand on holy ground with and for one another.
I know that the sacredness we share in spiritual friendship is rare, and I hope I never take it for granted.

Whatever my dream is – or ends up being – I know it’ll be easier to chase because of the stellar team I’ve got on my sideline.

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