"... the mind controlled by the Spirit is LIFE & PEACE." -- Romans 8:6

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Forever Hope

I was stung by the words of a student at Boise State yesterday who responded to the question, "What do you put your hope in?" with: mankind's potential for greatness. So, you're putting your hope in your fellow man? Wow. That is actually heartbreaking to me. People fail constantly. We are bent toward evil and have a sinful nature that pushes us away from God; this is not the type of being that I'd choose to place my hope.

BUT...

I am so thankful that we don't have to stay there, stuck in our sin.

I'm thankful that God has a good PLAN for His people.

I'm thankful that even though our natural instinct may draw us away from God, He continues to pursue us relentlessly. His "love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me" (Jesus Culture, One Thing Remains // music video).

I'm thankful that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV)

I'm thankful that my hope & my future are found in Jesus Christ.

I'm thankful that I can claim freedom in Christ as a daughter of the One True King.
Galatians 5; 2 Corinthians 6:18

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I've been thinking a lot about David lately in reading the Psalms. His words are so full of passion and emotion. Not fake emotion, and not overly spiritualized/religious emotion either. It's raw, real, and relatable. For example, take a look at the difference between Psalm 102 and 103:

"Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you. 
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones. 
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins." 
Psalm 102:1-6

"Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits--
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed."
Psalm 103:1-6

I resonate with the contrast here between the two different thought processes!

I'm not a scholar on the book of Psalms, so I don't know if these two chapters were necessarily written together, but I do know that they were written by the same man. I appreciate that the same man can express such utter depression, sadness, fear, and loneliness, then turn immediately to praising God with everything inside him! 

It sounds to me like a "Yeah, but..." situation.

"Yeah, life is hard, but God truly is faithful to provide; He will never leave us nor forsake us."

"Yeah, you will experience trouble in this world, but take heart, because [Jesus] has overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

"Yeah, you feel lonely, but God still sees you and loves you."

"Yeah, you may not know what decision to make, but God knows what your future holds; it's all under control."

My heart can hold both real emotion and wrestling as well as the desire to trust God, praise Him, and know Him more. This is especially encouraging because David, in all of his very real temptations and struggles, is called by God a "man after His own heart" (Acts 13:22). 

I want that to be true of me. I want to be known by God as a woman who reflects His heart.

I'm thankful that HE is my hope, not whatever I can muster up or find on my own. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Quit the "What ifs"

I went on a hike yesterday for two reasons.
1. I love hiking and the weather has been PERFECT for adventures in the foothills.
2. I've been feeling especially antsy for the last week or so and I just needed to get out and have some REAL time with God.




I knew it wasn't just a random hike; I was definitely hoping to get something out of it. I wanted needed to hear from the Lord. I was desperate for the kind of peace that can only come from Him. I was getting too tangled up in my own emotions, which was starting to drive me crazy.

At the beginning of the trail, equipped with my awesome chacos, camelbak hydration pack, and sunglasses, I prayed this simple, straight-from-the-gut prayer: 

"What is it, God? I know I need to hear something from You... what am I supposed to be learning in all of this?"

This is the response that came from that questioning:

Life is full of unknowns. The reality is, we never have complete control (no matter what illusion we try to hold onto). But there are some times that we feel more out of control than normal. It's in those times when you have no idea what's coming next, and the thought of getting caught off guard in any number of life scenarios makes you feel sick.

I realized that I've been playing the "what if" game with just about every area of life. I play the game, try to figure out the end result, make a million different potential paths to get there, and in the end have gained no more control over my life than when I first started. It's pointless. A waste of time. AND, only perpetuates things like pride, selfishness, lack of trust, impatience, and discontentment. (i.e., all of the things I try to avoid)

"What if ___?" (x600 different possible blanks)

"What if I don't make it?"

"What if they don't like me?"

"What if this is not what I expected?"

"No matter what that blank happens to be this moment, is it still worth it to follow me?"- Jesus 

Yes. No hesitation. No matter what fills that blank - no matter what I'm contemplating or worried about at this moment - it's all worth it to follow Jesus with all of my life. I still choose Him over anything else. 

If that's the case, then SO WHAT?
That whole argument makes whatever the "what if" blank is, suddenly irrelevant.
Invalid
Null and Void

Therefore, Kailene, you need to change your attitude and get over your selfish worrying and complaining!

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?'" Matthew 16:24-26

Yes. He is more than worth it, no question.

Just like in that picture above, sometimes you can't see the whole journey. There are parts that are blocked from your view and you have to keep moving forward in order to see what the path looks like. There are lots of quick turns, ups-and-downs, and unexpected boulders to climb over, but that doesn't mean you won't get to the end. It doesn't mean that the path ceases to exist, but if you don't press on, even with an obstructed view, you will never get to experience the process.

You can't decide how you're going to get over that big boulder that's around the corner until you get right up to it and figure out how to take the next few steps.

Stop getting yourself caught up in the stressful whirlwind of "what if" -- it's not a very fun game, and ultimately, distracts you from your Father God who has it all under control.

Keep pursuing HIM, not all the made up scenarios in your head that haven't even happened yet, nor do you know that they will. Surrender everything. Trust in every way. Believe that He knows what is best for you and will bring whatever that "best" is to fruition.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Real Change: What's your response?

I'm so thankful that God knows about change before I do.

Because if I was the omniscient one in charge, I would probably hide in my bedroom and snuggle safely in my comfy chair rather than head out into the crazy world.

Sometimes I make myself laugh. One day I'm all about adventure and independence and blazing my own trail. The next day I freak out at the first sign of something new and unpredictable. I told a friend recently, "I was 100% excited about it, until I remembered that I hate change."

Exhibit A: My gym changed locations. 

Really, this is not a big deal. In fact, it's an upgrade from the original place! But the other day when I drove over to the new gym, all ready to get my workout on, I turned off my car... sat there for a minute... and realized that I did not want to go in. I started to feel anxious and think up excuses about not having enough time to exercise before my meeting later that morning.

I should probably just go home. What if all of the ellipticals are taken (my "go to" machine) and I just don't know what to do with myself? What if I don't know where the drinking fountain is and I wander around like an idiot? I know that this place is bigger than the last one; what if I feel alone and just get overwhelmed and lost in there?!

The best part is that they were still finishing construction on the gym, so that location doesn't actual open for another week and a half. I felt like I had just gotten out of taking a big test, and it had nothing to do with actual exercise because I just drove over to the other location. That means it all had to do with working out in a NEW place. The relief I felt about going back to the old, familiar gym is rather embarrassing. 

How silly to get worked up about a new gym location, a mile from the old one, where I'm already a member and don't talk to anyone anyways???

I have been traveling by myself since I was seven, helped lead international mission trips, and just recently graduated with my bachelor's degree... you would THINK that I'd be able to handle life change, especially a minor one like going to the gym in a different building. 

That situation, simple as it may be, I think points to the condition of my heart in regards to change. 
[Maybe my current season of life influenced my response to the new gym location?]

I think it points to the part of my heart that struggles to trust the Lord who happens to be all-knowing even when I feel all-lacking. I know that even if I had the knowledge of what is to come, it could all change in a moment. Planning can create a false sense of security. I'm not saying don't plan; I'm saying don't put all your stock in the plan. If your trust is in Jesus and you believe that His plans for you are good, then there is nothing to worry about, EVER! Living for God is quite the adventure. There are so many opportunities to learn to rely more and more on the Lord. 


"She is clothed with strength and dignity, 
and she laughs without fear of the future." 
Proverbs 31:25, NLT

I want to be that woman! Full of strength and dignity, and free from fear of the future. 

How do you respond when change pops up? What about when things don't go as planned, or you are moving into a new situation? Do you fear the unknown? 

What does that response show about your view of God? 




"Search me, God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting." 
Psalm 139:23-24


"For I am the Lord your God who takes 
hold of your right hand and says to you, 
Do not fear; I will help you." 
Isaiah 41:13

Monday, March 31, 2014

Life in Constant Motion


Today, I set out to write. Then I pulled up blogger on my laptop and stared at the screen until I decided I'd start my writing my monthly prayer letter to my support team and hope that spurred on some blogging inspiration. I think there are too many big, exciting, scary, new things on my heart that it's difficult to wrap it up in one nice blog-sized package. Instead, this post will likely be packed with recent experiences, future plans, and the emotions that accompany both. Mostly, I just love to write. And sometimes you have to do what you love out of discipline and sheer passion rather than waiting for a clear outlined plan. Sometimes you've just got to go with what you've got and see what happens.



Art by Abby Hyslop Lettering //
http://www.abbyhyslop.com/journal/
I love this quote by Jim Elliot, the well-known missionary to the Quechua Indians in Ecuador: Wherever you are, be all there. Such beautiful truth, especially in this fast-paced life, full of constant, unexpected change. Despite all of that change and craziness, this quote reminds me that there is joy and purpose in this moment. There is something worth celebrating in today. There is so much to learn right now.

We so easily get caught up in looking ahead to the future, looking forward to what's coming up, and planning for the next few steps. While those things are not inherently bad or destructive, they can definitely steal the joy of the moment.

We've probably all experienced working with or being around somebody who is clearly not "all there." In my experience, it feels like that person doesn't care about the task at hand or the people around them; they disregard the present for what they hope to experience in the future. How unfortunate! Please God, don't let this be true of me. I want people around me to know that they matter to me... in my life... right now. I want to truly appreciate and cherish the moments I have with sweet friends, while I have them in my life.

The reality is, change is inevitable. Sometimes the changes are planned out well in advance, and other times they just happen spontaneously, feel rushed and hurried, or just spring up faster than expected. We really don't know how much time we have with people. I've experienced so much change in the past seven years since graduating from High School and have been blessed by such precious people in each season of my life--even if the season was a quick one. I'm so thankful, really... I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

I realized this morning that God has always provided specific people for me to "do life with" in the midst of every change and big, new thing I've experienced. He has never left me or abandoned me; I've always been completely covered by His grace & love. Thank you, Jesus. It is a comfort to know that in light of His faithfulness, what has always been true of God, will continue to always be true. I don't have to worry about Him changing or leaving. And I trust that when change comes up again, as it inevitably will, He will provide for my every need.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Some Thoughts on Worry

I remember a teacher several years ago who said not to take notes unless you would actually review them later. That gave me the freedom to decide that sometimes it makes sense to take notes, but other times it's most helpful to simply listen and take it all in. 

I'd say that most Sundays at church are "listen and take it all in" kind of days. Today, though, was a "scribble out notes as fast as you can" kind of Sunday morning... and make a mental note to tell Bren that he talks too fast because I have a few half-definitions. ;-)

At Revolution22 we're studying the book of Matthew. Today, we focused on chapter 6, verses 25-34, which as you may know, is about not worrying. I feel like I always need this message about relinquishing control for the umpteenth time and surrendering to Jesus. It's not about ME; it's all about HIM.

I was especially looking forward to a message on worry after the ridiculous week that just ended. It started last Sunday when I slammed my finger in a locked door (i.e. you can't open the door right away), spent most of Monday car sick and nauseous, had a weird allergic reaction on my face on Wednesday night (No more cheap moisturizer!), then spent the next 24 hours recovering from that and the effects of the Benedryl... and it concluded Friday night with hours of severe abdominal pain, which resulted in my first trip to the ER, at midnight, by myself. 

Oh, it's been one HECK of a week. 

A friend asked this morning if the pain was caused by stress. She and I have had this conversation many times before. Sometimes my body responds to stress even before my brain knows that I'm stressed out and anxious. I don't know for sure if that's what's causing the issue in my stomach, but stress has the potential to lead to pretty much any health problem. And I am in a season of intense transition right now, which naturally causes stress. But having health issues just exacerbates that stress.... so it's kind of a messed up cycle, if you ask me.

All of that to say, I was in just the right mental position to soak up all these words of truth regarding worry. Whether my brain knows that I'm stressed out or not, it's always good to be reminded of what is true and evaluate where I am placing my trust. 

So, here are some thoughts - written by me, conveyed through Bren, spoken by Jesus... 

Matthew 6:25-34

1. Verse 25 - "Therefore" - This word tells us to look back at the last few verses. The previous section (6:19-24), talks about how the things that you value indicate who/what you serve. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"(v. 21). So, if God is your master, why would you worry?

2. Some of us worry because we don't believe we have a Father in heaven who knows what we need.

3. It is unnecessary for us to fear, be anxious, or worry because of the faith God has planted in us.



  • He gives us the grace we need for this day. (v. 34)
  • Your actions indicate your level of faith in God. (i.e., how we respond to situations)
  • You're either a worrier or a child of God; you're either living for God's Kingdom or your own. (v. 32-33)
  • It's not about trying to perform better. The anecdote to worry is a focused pursuit of God's Kingdom. It's about transitioning from serving SELF -- to serving JESUS, a change of priorities.





SEEK:
  1. Pursue it like you really want to find it.
  2. Prioritize our pursuit as the first in time and first in importance. Every other desire is secondary to His Kingdom.
  3. The Kingdom can only be understood in light of the KING. You won't seek the Kingdom if He's not your King.
  4. The righteousness of God is impossible to divorce from Jesus, the King.
  • The more we come to know and rest in God's provision, the more we know we have nothing to worry about!
  • We want to control, but Jesus calls us to surrender.
Philippians 4:4-9
  • The Lord is near [at hand, present]; do not be anxious about anything. This is like saying: the reason why we don't have to worry is because God is near. He is close to His people! (v. 5)
  • You can't even comprehend the peace He brings! (v. 7)
  • Focus on things that are related to the Kingdom - true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. (v. 8)


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Just Be

I've been thinking about the idea of dwelling vs. doing. All of you type A personalities with perfectionist tendencies can relate to this tension, I'm sure. It's a constant battle! (Lately, a tug-of-war multiple times a day, no joke.)

On a typical tug-of-war kind of day, I stay busy doing awesomely productive things in the morning that make me feel efficient and successful and grown up. Then those things are over, and what used to be filled with a never ending list of homework assignments to accomplish, is now filled with whatever the heck I feel like. This can be incredibly freeing. Sometimes I go for a hike, go to the gym, clean the house, organize something in my room (yes, for fun), read one of the SIX books I'm currently in the middle of, or even watch TV - shocker. It can also be highly emotional as I wrestle with the tension of just enjoying life and the desire to be productive and make my life appear a certain way. It's in the time that was slated for homework that it now seems the pendulum of productivity swings quickly to the opposite side and I'm stuck in a mess of, "What am I even DOING with my life???!!!??!?!" (yes, that dramatically)

Taking advantage of the sun on Table Rock.
How did I go from feeling top-of-the-world, loving life, so accomplished in the morning, to feeling like I must be forgetting a million important things I'm supposed to be doing? (aka, minor freak outs)

Well, I have a theory or two about this dilemma.

1. If I start my day focused on "doing", I may find my worth in that, and then have a real hard time when it comes to the dwelling part of my day, because I feel like I've lost what gives me worth. Make sense? It's a completely ridiculous lie, but pretty important to understand. The truth: I am not any less valuable when I choose to do fun things for myself or just rest from all the "doing".

2. "Doing" is tangible, physical, and visible to others. It's easier to show off how much we do, than how disciplined we are in just being with Jesus and resting. Yeah, that's prideful. I shouldn't be doing things for the sake of creating a certain appearance for the approval of others.

3. Not to place blame, but our culture values "doing" over "being". There is a lot of societal pressure to get stuff done; that's what we have to show for ourselves. 

4. We think that "just being" is awfully boring. So what does it even mean to "just be" or "dwell"? I just sit here and do nothing? I don't get to talk to anyone else? My most deeply fulfilling and reviving moments are ones spent with a pen and journal and Bible, in a beautiful/comfortable place, having conversations with God. Mind you, not DOING something for God, but just BEING with Him and talking.

I told a friend recently about some potential future plans and she asked if I'd had a blunt conversation with God about what He wanted me to do yet. That afternoon I wrote in my journal: "This is my blunt conversation with God..." and I asked Him all kinds of questions. Talk about a shift in perspective. Sometimes I find myself grumbling things like: "I have nobody to process my day or talk about decisions with." (aka, self-pity) BEING with God, is so much more filling than talking things out with someone else... or even trying to find the time to connect with other people. People are important and God created us for relationship, no doubt about it. But I think we can so easily lose sight of the pure joy and indescribable peace found in just BEING with God and having a conversation with HIM.

5. On the other hand, major life transition definitely brings about reflection, questions, and a lot of change in general. So, partially, this is just normal. :) It's good to acknowledge that, too!

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So yesterday afternoon in my usual frenzy of "I should be DOING something right now!!!" I grabbed my chacos, camelbak backpack, sunglasses, Bible and journal, and headed up to Table Rock. I just needed a place to go BE out of the house. I was starting to get antsy. I sat down on that little hill in the photo above, and my Bible flipped open to Hosea 2: "Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her" (vs. 14). I'm just saying... I was on a hill in the desert, and I desperately wanted to hear God speak to my heart. 

And I believe He did. 

It wasn't necessarily this profound word for everyone, but it was a series of words for ME, for just that time. It was a whole string of truth that humbled, challenged, and encouraged me. I'm so thankful that our Heavenly Father knows our hearts intimately and chooses to interact with us personally. 

I just started writing... and I realized that for me, they were a bunch of words from Jesus. 

"You don't have to create some kind of acceptable identity or work to be approved of, Kailene. You are accepted and loved just as you are. You don't have to prove yourself. And for heaven's sake [yes, I did write that], stop comparing your life to everyone else's. It will create one of two things: pride - in thinking of yourself more highly than you ought, or self-pity - in considering yourself to be of lesser value than those around you. Neither is beneficial or healthy. Comparison, in that sense, will lead to destruction. 

Right now, you are exactly where God wants you to be - so enjoy it! ..."

My response: "Jesus, I love that I can just be here with You and not have to worry or figure things out."

I do want to enjoy this season of life. It's so unique & fun! Satan will work diligently to steal that joy, but my God is bigger AND victorious. So I have nothing to worry about. 




Saturday, February 22, 2014

Studying "guard your heart" (and all the connotations that come with it)

The following paragraph is an excerpt from an article I read this morning on the topic of guarding your heart. These types of analogies are very common in Christian rhetoric today, and for the past twenty years or so. (That's my own assumption, not fact.) I don't think that it's all WRONG, I do however think we're missing a big chunk of the picture, a very important chunk. The perfect "single stick tape" type of heart attachment (to use her analogy) is rarely reality. So what does that mean for the rest of us?


"The first time you stick a piece of tape to something it’s good and sticky. If you then peel it off and stick it to something else it may possibly still stick. The third time, the corners are probably not staying down. Fourth time it’s only limply clinging on in a pathetic sort of way. Do this too many times and you find yourself with nothing more than a dirty, linty piece of cellophane. Similarly (in case you missed the inference), the more times you give your heart away, the less likely it gets that your heart will be capable of staying put. And it’s not just that something in you gets weakened each time this happens. As a matter of fact, something in you gets strengthened as well . . .  your ability to switch the object of your affection. You have trained yourself to have a roving eye – and that habit will certainly not stop simply because you get married."

What do you think?

- What emotions surface after reading this? What does it make you think of?

- What is the conclusion that the author comes to?

- What is the end result for the person who "gives his/her heart away" too many times?