Tag Archives: grace

psalm 31 – the wrap up

psalm 31 pt3

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand. (v14)

Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! (v16)

O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you (v17)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you (v19)

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful and abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! (v23-24)

It has been a long time since I’ve sat down at a keyboard to write a blog. Having been away for so long, it can feel a bit overwhelming to start back up again — the task can seem a little daunting.

And that’s sometimes what it can feel like when I’ve been away from Jesus for too long.

Looking back over my life I see the ebb-and-flows of my relationship with Christ. I can reminisce about my adolescence, college years, and early adulthood and recall times where I intentionally stayed far from Jesus because it just seemed too overwhelming to show up with Him again. The task was unsettling. Mainly because I twisted the whole “saved by grace through faith alone” thing and turned it in to “saved by making sure I’ve got my crap together, and then present myself as clean and whole before this righteous, holy God.”

I made redemption my game rather than receiving it as Christ’s finished work.

As my dad would say, that is so bass akwards.

If I don’t start writing again, then I’ll never write again.
If we don’t just come back to Jesus, then we’ll never come back to Jesus.

The doing of the thing is the thing.

Oh how thankful I am that our God does not turn His back on those He loves. How gracious is the One who preserves the faithful!

What I love about the back half of this psalm is that the writer is not afraid to enter in to the overwhelming, daunting task of presenting himself as…well…himself, to God. He just does. With beauty and honesty and humanity.

And God is faithful.

He is faithful to look beyond our feeble attempts to work our way into salvation and accept us because of what Christ did on the cross.
He is faithful to see how overwhelming this life can be for us, and so He enters in the only way the Savior and Redeemer of the world can — He shows up for us and with us in great, unimaginable ways.
He is faithful to shine His light upon us and save us with His steadfast love.

It might be overwhelming and seem a little unnerving, but the good news is that Jesus doesn’t wait at the end of the road for us. He meets us where we are, takes us by the hand, and walks the road with us — defeating any enemy that gets in our way, presenting us in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish before God.

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psalm 30

psalm 30

I don’t think I’ll ever stop fist-bumping David for the way he approaches God and sings prayers to the Lord.

As I’ve mentioned at least 29 times before, I just have to give a huge YES & AMEN to all that is said in this book of psalms.

I’m consistently reminded that God doesn’t desire empty words or phrases that seem pious and super-Christian. He just desires our heart. He desire to hear from His children, no matter how choppy, or dramatic, or full of feelings and heartache and joy and weirdness our words may be.

And here I am again, saying YES & AMEN to David and what he writes in the 30th psalm:

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

No matter how many times I read the psalms, I’m always freshly encouraged by the pattern and themes found inside the words – that God’s people cry out (don’t just causally have a conversation with Him), that God hears His people and draws near to them, that He is their Helper and pulls them up from whatever pit they are in, that He brings joy, that weeping & mourning are okay.

Weeping may tarry, the valley may be deep, but the Lord your God hears His people – hears you – and will turn your mourning in to dancing. He will bring joy with the dawn.

I need that today. I need that everyday. I need to be reminded of and encouraged by the truth that my God is a God of goodness & redemption & healing for those that love Him and trust Him.

I need to know that He is merciful to me & will help me all the days of my life.

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psalm 5

I often doubt that God cares enough to hear my groaning. I often think that the heinous sin I’ve committed against a perfect and holy God is too great for Him to hear my voice. And when I say “often” I mean, I literally had this conversation 4 hours ago…

I forget Jesus.

Then, I read this psalm.

I read that, through the abundance of HIS steadfast love, I will enter His house.
I don’t enter through the abundance of my righteous acts.
I’m not left out because of my sin.
I enter through Him.
Through His love.
Through Jesus.

Oh Lord that I may be drawn into Your love even greater in this moment!
May the Truth of who You are – that You care about the tiniest sound of the cry from my heart – saturate my entire being!

Father, give me a new song of joy and spread your protection over me, that I may exult in You!

Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

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all my GWOC ladies

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I’m 99.9999% sure I wrote this same sentence last year, but my all time favorite weekend of the year (outside of Christmas and my birthday) is FCA’s annual Girls Weekend of Champions. Us ladies get to gather together to sweat, laugh, cry, and learn about Jesus with one another. This year we had 144 (!!!!!!!!) student-athletes from all across the Greater St. Louis area join together for camp. It was, in short, the KEWLEST!

As a staff member for FCA, one of my camp follow up duties is to go over the evaluations that campers fill out (campers: aren’t you glad you didn’t write that Kayla was a big weirdo?)

On overwhelming amount of girls wrote about the impact Christ has had on their lives through the camp. I LOVE, LOVE getting to read those comments. Those notes that say, “I gave my life to Jesus for the first time at this camp,” or, “I had no idea what it looked like to play my sport to the glory of God and now I do!”

They fill my heart.

But, ladies, there’s something we need to follow up on.

You need to know that you do not have to work harder for the sake of Jesus.

So many wrote, “I just need to do better.” or, “I’m going to try harder to be a better Christian.”

I get it. I really do. As an athlete, recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser, etc. I get it.

It doesn’t make sense that we have a God that just asks us to be. To be still and know that HE is GOD. He doesn’t ask us to work really hard so that we can be better. He asks us to know that Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we don’t have to work. If God’s pleasure in my perfection were left up to me…man…I’d be a hot mess!

If there’s one thing I push back against the most, it’s the desire to be better so that God will love me more, accept me more, pour out more blessings upon me.

Hebrews 7 says that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him and that He has no need to offer sacrifices daily since He did this once for all when he offered up Himself.

It doesn’t say that God only saves us partially based on Christ’s sacrifice and then the rest is provided by our works.

He doesn’t say that there is a need for longer quiet times, more Bible study groups to be a part of, better coffee to drink during your journaling time (although I do think I’m closer to God depending on how good the bean in my cup is…another time, Kayla…another time…).

Scripture says that Christ saved us to the uttermost once and for all by His sacrifice on the cross.

So, ladies (and gentlemen I guess, if you’re a guy and reading this…), stop trying to work harder for God’s love. Just be with Him for the sake of being with Him.

Know that you are loved and valued beyond comprehension simply because God says so.

Rest in that tonight, this week, this year. And let’s chat about it at Girls Weekend 2016 🙂

*also, check out The Dancers here to prepare for more epic FCA dance parties

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the marriage of discipline & trust

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I’ve struggled in keeping up with this whole blogging thing this summer. Truth is, I haven’t struggled in blogging. I’ve struggled in discipline. I always have.

I grew up as a disciplined athlete, but every other area of my life way always in disarray. When I stopped playing sports, then I really lost all sense of discipline. I’m just not the greatest at being a self-disciplined person, no matter how much I want to be.

And the reason for that is that I’m really good at talking myself out of it. I’m probably the best person to convince myself that I can put certain things off. I can make myself believe so easily that I’ve earned a night off. “It can wait until next week. I deserve to nap instead” has been the motto of my summer when it comes to this blog.

And you know what I’ve also lacked in this summer? Trust.

In my lack of discipline in searching God in my single life, I have lacked in trust that God cares about my single life.

This blog has not only been a way for me to write out some (hopefully) helpful commentary on my experiences within the church as a single person, but it has also been a tool for me to really seek the Lord – intentionally and specifically in the area of relationships.

I’ve come to find that discipline and trust are married. And that they work really well together. And that when one is off running around, not being faithful to their union, the other one just kinda floats around with nowhere to land.

And I’ve also learned that when they are both filling their proper roles – and when I’m actively engaging in both – they form a really great union. (Marriage type union…not construction workers union…)

When I am disciplined in seeking God – through prayer, study of Scripture, meditation on His Word – I can trust Him more fully. And when I trust Him more fully, the discipline of seeking Him becomes a pure joy in my life. Which leads to more trust. Which leads to more discipline…

See what I mean?

But when I’m not seeking Him, I’m not trusting Him. Which leads me to not seek Him. Which leads to less trust…

You get it. You’re a smart person.

So, here’s to discipline. And grace. And a Redeemer that loves even me – the undisciplined sinner that I am. And here’s to trusting that God is God, and God is good, even when I don’t blog for 3 months or so.

*watch Sue’s engagement surprise here!

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realizing your basically just like an ancient tribe

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(just me waving ‘Hi’ from a corn field. photo creds to the ever-lovely H Mae.)

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus lately. It’s taking me a while to get through the book, but in a weird way, I’m glad I wasn’t so disciplined and rigid about getting through it in a specific time frame. (Read: I just didn’t read it as regularly as a good Christian would have…) [also, please note sarcasm when you read “good Christian would have…”] {okay, I think I’m done with parentheses/brackets now}

Also, I just saw a motorcyclist drive past Starbucks with a GoPro on his helmet. $3 says he pulls some street trix tonight.

I get distracted easily.

Back to Exodus.

So, I’m reading through and early on in the book I’m just totally blow away by God showing up with His people. I can consistently see Yahweh coming to His people, actively working to redeem them. And I was always like, “YES! I KNOW this God! I see and feel His active redemption in my life too!”

Then I get to the part(s) of the book where the people of Israel decide it’s a good idea to open their mouths. And grumble. And question God. And sorta roll their eyes at Him and complain about dumb stuff.

Specifically in chapter 15 they are complaining about some bitter water. I can sense some smart mouth (probably named Kayla) saying, “Well, what are we gonna do now? What are we supposed to drink?!”

I read that and immediately wrote down, “The people of Israel didn’t give God time to work. They immediately began grumbling.”

Then again, in chapter 17, the issue of water comes up again! Geez Israel, stop being so thirsty!!

Anyways, they move from the wilderness and “there was no water for the people to drink.” They go before Moses and complain, again, and he goes before the Lord on their behalf, again, and God (I imagine) gives Moses a slight eyebrow raise and says, “Watch this…”

God literally tells Moses to hit this random rock with his staff & water will pour out of it. And it does. Water flows from a ROCK. Because, God.

What gets me about this passage though, is what comes in verse 7:

He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Here’s what Kayla’s scribblings say about this: It’s so funny/amusing to me when Israel doubts God’s presence or goodness during their time of physical need – YET, I am just like that. If I want/desire something physical, material, and God doesn’t give it to me in my time frame, I ask with Israel, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Hi, I’m Kayla, and I am just like ancient Israel.

Israel experienced the plagues in Egypt, walked THROUGH THE RED SEA on DRY GROUND, was led through the wilderness by a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke…AND THEY STILL QUESTIONED GOD’S GOODNESS.

Kayla has experienced God’s faithfulness in her life in MULTIPLE ways, YET STILL DOUBTS GOD’S GOODNESS!

It is easy to forget how truly good God is when things aren’t going our way – in relationships, jobs, friendships, financially, *insert scenario here*.

I’m not going to pretend like I never get ticked with God. In fact, He and I had a really long conversation last weekend about how mad I was at Him. But you know what? He is still good. He still lovingly draws me in and says, “I know. I know it’s hard for you right now. I know your heart hurts. But just wait until the morning. Wait until you can see what I see.”

I’m holding on to that right now. I may be frustrated. I may be hurt. But I’m holding on to a God who sees the promised land before I do and knows that I will get there in due time.

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use your words

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I like to talk. When I was in kindergarten, I typically got in trouble for sitting on my desk after I was finished with my work and jabbering away. I can also vividly remember having to sit in the hallway on the first day of school every year until 5th grade because of my blabber mouth. I finally learned how to get my business under control in 5th grade, I guess.

Now, one of my favorite things is sitting around a dinner or coffee table and having long conversations that lose all sense of time.

I like to talk.

I’m also living in a time when everyone likes to talk and loves sharing their opinion on any and every matter they can. Everyone has a voice, and I don’t want to dismiss that, but I’m also a little concerned that we don’t fully understand the weight of our words.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

As Christians, I think we love to use this verse to shut down potty mouths. It’s simple to point to the first portion of this verse and remind those around us that we shouldn’t be cussing or tearing others down with our words, which I completely agree with.

But I think we’ve lost the last part. I think we’ve lost grace in our words. I don’t think we try to speak in such a way that our words give grace to those who hear. 

When you ask me about my dating status, I tell you I’m still single, and you answer with, “Oh what a bummer.” – that isn’t giving me grace.
When you ask me about marriage and I say, “Yeah, this season is really hard because I desire marriage and a family and I’m just struggling right now,” and you reply with, “Well, it’ll happen in God’s timing.” – that isn’t giving me grace.

Be okay with my singleness when I’m okay with it. Be a little bummed with me when I’m bummed about it. Don’t dismiss my feelings, but rather speak grace into my life.

Our words are powerful. Our reactions to situations and seasons in life mean something to those around us. As followers of Jesus we carry grace with us in our voices.

I know that I’ve not always used my words to give grace to those who hear, but I know that’s what I’m called to. I’m called to speak grace. And what an opportunity we have to build those around us up, speak life, truth, and grace into this world, and maybe, just maybe, show people Jesus with our words.

*watch Kristen & JT play Secret Word here!

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