Tag Archives: identity

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.

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mourning motherhood

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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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revive me again

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Chances are I’ve probably already written about the Psalm I’m going to write about tonight. But if I can’t remember it, I doubt you can. And if you do, then, dddaaannnnggg, thanks for supporting a sister!

A couple summers ago I heard a sermon on Psalm 85 that rocked me to my core. So much so, I still have my notes from that Sunday [although, that’s probably not much of a shocker to those that know me well…]. And turns out, it was the day before my birthday that year! #blessed

I’ve read and read and re-read that Psalm so many times since. In it, the psalmist does a few things:

  1. Reminds the Lord of what He has done
  2. Begs for revival
  3. Reminds himself of what the Lord has done & that He is capable & willing to do it again

I find this pattern necessary in my life. I need to remind God of what He has done in my life, and in doing so, I’m reminding myself of His past faithfulness – that God has showed up in my life on countless occasions. That He is a God that loves and is for His people.

It reminds me that I need to keep showing up. I need to beg for revival. I remember ever so clearly what the preacher said that Sunday morning. Verses 6 & 7 say, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.”

The preacher then said, “Ask for that. Beg for that. Beg for God to revive you again so that you may rejoice in Him! And when the answer is no, for today, get up again tomorrow and ask again! Continue to show up with God; fight for the revival in your soul.”

OKAY FINE! I WILL!

But then I don’t.
I fight for a couple days, then I decide the fight isn’t worth it.
I beg for a while, but then I get tired of begging m.
I want instant, blatant satisfaction. I’m not willing to wait on the Lord and thirst for God the way the psalmists did.

But the good news is that God is still God, and God is still good. Even on the days when I don’t ask Him for His goodness.

He will revive His people again, so that we may rejoice in Him.

There’s so much to be said about the words penned in the 85th psalm, but the simplest thing to say is that it’s all for His glory. Revival of my soul is not for my temporary happiness or earthly satisfaction. It is for God and God alone. “Yes, the Lord will give what is good.” (v12) And the ultimate good is Himself.

So, I pray for that tonight, tomorrow, in the coming days – that He may revive me again, so that I may rejoice in Him.

 

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learning to dwell

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For the past few years I’ve done this pretty cool (to me, at least) thing where I pick a word or theme of the year. One year it was discipline, last year it was #toshowingup, and this year it is “dwell.”

I think we can all agree that the only thing most of us resolve to do is not follow through on our New Year’s resolutions, so, in place of that, a friend introduced me to choosing a word/theme for the year.

I like the consistency of learning how to implement a theme over the course of the year. I enjoy the process way more than the outcome. AND it’s a lot less pressure than having to stop drinking coffee and go to the gym 8 days a week starting January 1.

So here we are, 2016, and I’m going to dwell.

I want to learn what it means to be in the present with God and myself.

I want to stop being anxious over uncontrollable circumstances.

I want to know deep in my soul that my identity and value are unshakable in Christ.

I want to dwell in the presence of my Maker, resting in His goodness alone.

Merriam-Webster defines dwell as a verb that means, “to remain for a time.”

It is active, yet it is passive. You have to make the choice to remain somewhere.

It’s easy for me to talk about rest, and dwelling, and sitting, and remaining. It’s a WHOLE ‘NOTHER BALL GAME for me to actually do it for a time.

I’m decent at dwelling for a day or so, when it’s convenient for me. But this year, this go ’round, I want to dwell forever. I want the time to not have a frame – I want to be with Jesus and remain in Him.

I doubt I’ll have this whole dwelling thing figured out by 2017. If I do, maybe you could take me out for queso and I’ll tell you all the secret things.

But I am excited about what 2017 will look like because I will have dwelt with the Savior. I will continue to learn more and more every day what it means to have my identity anchored in the Unchangeable One.

This year will be one for the books (blogs) and I’m excited to share it with you.

*what is God calling you to in this coming year? Is there a theme or word you can own for 2016?

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singles holiday guide: part 1

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With the holidays upon us and singles everywhere (somewhat) dreading going home to the same ole set of questions about their love lives, I thought it would be appropriate to address some questions that might pop up over the next few weeks. If you want to shut down any conversational advance from a pesky rando at family dinner, use the following responses:

Family Member: “So I guess your New Years resolution of getting a boyfriend didn’t work out.”
Response: “No, it did, but I broke up with him about 15 minutes in because all he could talk about was legos.”

Family Member: “Well, at least you don’t have to spend money on an extra person this year.”
Response: “You’re right…I didn’t buy you anything.”

Family Member: “You can totally go to Grandma’s early to help start cooking since you don’t have a family to get ready, right?”
Response: “Nah, but I WILL go to Grandma’s early to suck up and get all the good pieces of bacon before you suckers show up.”

Family Member: “Any prospects in your life yet?”
Response: “If by prospects you mean good movies to go see? Then, yes.”

Family Member: “Do you think you’ll ever get married?”
Response: “If it means I have to start asking for toasters, quilts, and light bulbs for Christmas, then NO THANK YOU.”

Okay, so those aren’t the most gracious responses, and I wouldn’t recommend saying them unless you have a pretty sarcastic family. However, I do feel for those of you that are inundated with questions about your single life from those closest to you.

It’s hard to be around people who only see your identity as single or married. Or divorced. Or childless. Or [fill in the blank].

Your relationship status is not who you are. Your value and worth come from Jesus alone! This season is to be lived in celebration of the God Man coming to earth to save us.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

Remember that this holiday season as friends get engaged, weddings are attended, and well-meaning family members say some hurtful things. Remember that a Savior was born for you and me. And nothing outside of that truth really matters.

*at least Amy, Kristen, & Maya have a boyfriend this holiday season…

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