the gift of presence

First of all, this will not be a Christmastime Jesus Juke about how you shouldn’t buy presents. I’m too shallow for something like that.

Still buy presents.
Presents are fun.

And this really is not specifically tied to Christmastime anyway. It’s tied to my refrigerator.


There is no secret about what I thought my life would look like at the age I am now. I thought I would have a husband, at least one kid, and at least one house. To-date, I have no husbands, no kids, and an apartment. Like most single people that I know, my heart longs for a family that I create with a man that loves me enough to give me his last name. (That unintentionally sounds like a potentially bad country song. My apologies.)

I grew hearing things like, “Well, work on being content in the Lord, and once you’re fully satisfied in Him, He will bring you the right man!” and “Just keep working on being the best wife you can be so God can bring you a husband!” And, as far as I can tell, that’s a load of B.S.

You don’t eat dinner once to the point of satisfaction and never eat a meal again.

God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t dangle the deepest desires of your heart out in front of you, just waiting for that magical moment when your chakras align and He can send Mr. Right to your doorstep. He is not waiting for me to reach some point of maturity, signaling that I have earned a right to get what I want.

But He is faithful, even when my deepest desires remain just that – a desire. Desire means “to long or hope for.” A definition that insinuates you don’t have the thing.

And the thing my refrigerator is telling me right now is that He, indeed, is faithful.
And that it is okay to continue hoping for that which I do not have.

He is faithful in His ordinary presence.
He is faithful in the gift of His people.
He is faithful in unexpectedly fulfilling the desires I so deeply long for.


I told my friend recently that I truly don’t know what to do with all of the love inside of my body for the miniBFFs in my life. (Shoutout to Annie F. Downs for that oh-so-appropriate term.)

It is difficult to comprehend why God would allow me to be ordinarily present in their lives.
That I can show up on a Tuesday night because I forgot my coat and be tackled by a toddler.
That another can ask his mom why I still haven’t taken my picture from his house to bring it to mine (even though he told me I had to keep it there…).
That with just a look these little people are the face of God Himself to me.

The gift of presence is that my longings matter.
My wants matter.
My heart matters.

And God is not unfaithful to give me what I want.

He gives me exactly what I want in ways I never knew I wanted them. And my refrigerator is reminding me of that tonight.

bonus points if you can pick the 2 that say happy birthday.
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bear the burden

I’ve been thinking a lot about burdens this year. 2020 itself has been one of the biggest burdens most of us have faced in our lifetimes. I’ve been thinking about how we are so quick to do everything we can to alleviate all burdens, to throw off everything that is hard and painful and takes some work to deal with.

The word “burden” as defined by the internet mean: “a load, typically a heavy one.”

So, by using context clues, we can arrive at the conclusion that burdens are not fun.

Everyone has burdens. Sickness, loneliness, financial stress, a job they don’t like, a bad piece of meat that gave them stomach cramps…you get it. Anything that we can say is hard or heavy is a burden.

Burden is also, apparently, a movie released in 2018 starring Usher. You’re welcome, I think?

And typically, we work really hard at skirting the burden. At the first sign of something heavy, we run in the opposite direction, often (for me) using coping mechanisms that I think will take the burden away.

We accumulate wealth to ease the burden of financial want.
We drink to ease the pain of another night alone.
We numb out on any form of entertainment to disengage from the world around us.

And the funny thing is, those things just become another burden.
We cannot live a life burden-free.


I’ve been reading through the Gospels this summer on a loop and I can’t help but notice that as Jesus is introducing the Kingdom of God, He isn’t introducing a Kingdom of absence. He is introducing a Kingdom of abundance, yet that requires some work.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT), “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Did you catch that? Jesus isn’t removing every burden. He is giving me His burden.

A light one.
A burden that – rather than being heavy – actually gives me deep, soul rest.


Too often when things get heavy I keep the yoke of my own burden on my shoulders. And, even though I’ve got those solid outfielders shoulder-arms, the weight becomes too much. My soul gives out, falls over, and can’t go on.

But when I intentionally take upon my shoulders the burden of Jesus – the burden that declares the work is done, the penalty of sin is taken care of, and the grace for each moment of my life is freely given with no strings attached – when I put that burden on my shoulders, it is light.

It is easy.
It is good.
Because it’s from Jesus.

Don’t eliminate the burden.
Bear the burden of Jesus.

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like a child

To get the obligatory statement out of the way: 2020 has been weird.

Did you guys know we’re going through a global pandemic?

As Charles Dickens would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

We all kinda know why it’s the worst of times. But in so many ways, it has been the best of times for my lil heart.

When all of this started going down, I was so scared. Scared of being alone. Scared of losing momentum in relationships. Scared of tiny virus particles that seems to have 8947208 different narratives on what to believe about it.

But in the midst of my fear, Jesus is showing up. He showed up initially through relationships saying, “No, you’re not going to be alone, we’re ordering dinner so come over.”

He showed up through the slow process of digging in the earth and watching what was planted bloom.

He’s showing up through a renewed rhythm of time with Him.

And in that rhythm, He’s teaching me what it is to come to Him like a child.

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” After taking them in his arms, he laid his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16 (CSB)

Receive this like a child.

Kayla, watch the little children that are in your life.
Watch them go directly to their mother and ask for exactly what they want.
Watch their parents interpret the barely-there words and the points and grunts, and know exactly what their child needs.
Watch them get hurt, and unashamedly weep in the shoulder of their mom until it all feels better – whether that be 5 seconds or 5 minutes.
Watch them be told no, and still find their comfort in the one that gave them that answer.
Watch them find joy just by looking at your face.

Receive Me like these children.


I have tattoos. One of my favorite things is when the little guys in my life notice them. One tried to blow the candles out on my newest addition and it was the most hilarious, sweetest thing in the world. Then he tried to peel it off like a sticker and we had to talk about gentle hands.

I digress.

Tonight, a little one caught the word “Beloved” peeking out of my t-shirt and asked about it. I slid my sleeve up and before I could say anything he asked, “Does that say ‘Kaka’?” (That’s my name – don’t wear it out).

And, going against every instinct to correct him, I simply answered, “Yes, that does say my name.”

Because I’m learning to listen to my God call me Beloved.

I’m learning to receive the kingdom of God like that sweet little child.

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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.

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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.

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