Hope Is Hard

Hope is hard. It’s a fact of life.

But hope is also beautiful. It means we’re choosing to believe that there is indeed a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. That, my friend, is no easy feat.

Hope is counting on and clinging to what we cannot see. Hope is what we grab hold of as we’re searching for peace in the middle of a war. Hope is not always comforting, but sometimes it’s all that’s left.

If hope were a person, I wonder what he’d say or what he’d do. I’d like to believe that he’d take my hand and say “here’s my hand, you can squeeze it.” Hope would know that if I can’t change my present circumstances, I’m better off knowing I don’t need to endure the battle ahead alone.

Faith and hope work closely together. Without faith, how could we hope?  How else could we confidently say,”everything will work out.” Hope is the product of faith in something. In anything. In anyone.

C.S. Lewis once said that “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” Sounds a lot like hope doesn’t it?

Not everyone may believe in God or a supernatural being, but it’d take an incredible amount of convincing for someone to tell me they didn’t have hope. We hope in our friends, our family, our circumstances. In tangible things.

However, I’ve found the most beautiful sort of hope is that which can’t be seen or heard or touched, but still believed in. 

-Kayla

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

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The Church Is Not A Building

The church is not a building.

I’ve always loved this concept. The church is not a building, rather, it’s a community of Christ followers. However, I came to the realization yesterday that the only place I’ve ever heard this concept discussed, is at church. The building. The sanctuary. In the pew. The irony of that fact hit me hard.

I was at college.

I attend a public community college. I wasn’t in chapel or in a theology class.

God moves everywhere. The bible study at my school, Ignite Fellowship, meets multiple times during the week. I haven’t been able to attend often because of a wacky schedule.

By God’s grace I was able to attend yesterday. It was beautiful. We met in a study room. Put our bibles on the conference tables in front of us.We sang a few worship songs and after that, we shared communion. We borrowed a small table and set it up in front of the small room and covered it with a table-cloth. A plate and goblet were set out.

In that moment, I had a revelation. When Jesus communed with his disciples as they were partaking in the Last Supper, they weren’t in a church building. No ordained pastor officiated it. I doubt anyone was dressed in their church clothes.

The last supper wasn’t pretty. I imagine the filthy dirt floors and Jesus and his devoted followers sitting around. I’m sure they were weary from going everywhere on foot. A steak dinner surely would have been accepted without a word. Nonetheless all that sat before them was a loaf of bread and some cheap wine. These twelve men had been everywhere with Jesus. And yet their going away party was anything from glamorous. In fact, right off the bat, Jesus puts forth a disclaimer: “one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).

Their meeting was somber. Tears were shed. I’m sure some felt a sense of abandonment and definitely confusion.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:26-28

Why do we create limitations? The church was a body of believers long before it was a building. Jesus is the head of the church, not a building. If we forget the people part,we forget Jesus’s heart. He loved people.

I find it hard to see how the true gospel will effectively be shared if we (if I) don’t live the gospel.

If we try harder to envision Jesus’s last supper, maybe then we will fully understand how important it is.

Watch out, the church is leaving the building.

-Kayla

Stepping Away (for awhile)

This year I decided to participate in the Catholic holiday that is Lent. I’ve always admired people who have fasted from something (or even multiple things) for such a long period of time. For me, forty days could easily feel similar to forty years.

I’m not catholic nor do I have anything against catholic and in the big picture none of this has anything to do with Catholicism anyways.

I adore creating excuses. So much that I create excuses for creating excuses. (This is a skill). That being said, making the decision to commit to fasting for 40 days was a big deal. If anything, this experience will hopefully teach me to be honest with myself.

I took a look at a list of the 25 most popular things people give up for Lent. It’s quite interesting. Many aren’t very unusual. Chocolate, sweets, that sort of thing.

I chose Facebook.

I could come up with a million reasons why, but I’ll try to whittle down the list. Here are two things I struggle with that are made worse by social media (specifically Facebook):

  • Jealousy
  • Comparison

These two often go hand-in-hand and often end in an attitude of doom and gloom.

Sometimes, starting your day off by skimming through engagement pictures and watching your friends one by one change their relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ isn’t healthy. It just isn’t. Not because marriages are bad or relationships are bad, but because maybe it’s not what’s best for me right here in this moment.

When ‘everyone’ A.K.A those two or three people filling up your news feed seems to be doing something you aren’t it’s waay to easy to second guess my own actions. Starting off the day criticizing myself is probably not the best way to bring about a good ending.

If we’re friends on Facebook (and if we’re not), it should be clear that I’m not the type to limit my status updates to only grand spectacular events occurring in my life. Let’s be real. Everyday isn’t perfect, so why pretend that it is?

I’m not the perfect student. I’m a hard-working student, but not necessarily the one ringing in all 4.0’s. When the end of a quarter comes around, I tend to beat myself up over the fact that I, unlike ‘everyone’ else didn’t get as many 4.0’s as I should have.

As I said before, these are only two focuses. And the big picture isn’t Facebook. Or relationships. Or good grades. If you’ve been reading my posts, hopefully you’ll have noticed that their topics may vary, but I always attempt to pick out the life application. I don’t want you to read this a post, see that whatever is written is only applicable to me, and go on with your day. I desire more out of my writing than that.

Ultimately, by the end of these full forty days, I want to choose joy over jealousy and comparison. I want to rejoice in others when they are happy, not plaster on a fake smile. I do not believe the myth that if my friends Facebook timelines are perfect, so are their lives. For me, it’s an easy lie to believe.

Lent should be about giving something up to invite God in and fill what was before an empty space, temporarily gratified. Leave room for God.

Question to ponder: If God is the absolute best, why don’t we choose Him above all else every time? 

-Kayla

small is the new big: what a stranger told me about my faith

image

Disclaimer: This post is slightly longer, but I think the story is awesome, so you should at least skim to the end.

I don’t know about you, but some days I’m quite sure that my life would be utterly boring without the Community Transit system. In class everyday, it’s not to hard to predict what that period will bring. With bus stops on the other hand, you just never know.

There is something about waiting for a bus with complete stranger(s) at the end of a long day that  just makes me want to thrust my hand forward and start a conversation and say let’s be friends.

Said no ISFJ named Kayla ever.

I surprised myself one day during a twenty-some minute bus-stop wait a couple of weeks ago.

The conversation started with cats.  Well, I didn’t mention exactly mention cats, but this nice man came walking down the sidewalk with a pile of books from what I assume to be the Re-Read bookstore across the street. Anyhow, I figured they were for his child or niece or nephew. The kid must like cats.

I notice insignificant minutia details like that all the time.

Anyhow this man dropped his pile of books and I helped him pick them up and whatnot. It’s always awkward going for long periods of time without striking up some sort of small talk, we talked about small-talkish things such as what’s the time and etc.

I didn’t expect to have a theological conversation. We talked about why we were riding the bus. He hadn’t had a car for a few years now he said and he didn’t see a reason why to go out and get a car.

My turn to share. I explained my predicament, how I’m legally not allowed to drive until I can manage to go six months free of seizure of any sort.

What he said next was EXACTLY the reminder I needed.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Matthew 17:20

It wasn’t at all critical or in a holier-than-thou tone. It was incredibly refreshing.It was a reminder that my God is so much bigger than any earthly obstacle.  God isn’t punishing me. He’s molding me and making me into something beautiful. He can make you beautiful too. 

-Kayla

Like A Coffee Maker

As I was cleaning out my Keurig coffee maker this afternoon, scraping out the buildup of coffee grinds, and disabling different parts, I experienced a revelation:


Our spiritual lives are just  like a coffee maker. If we let sin build up in different areas of our lives, we break down completely.  It doesn’t take long either before we stop functioning completely.

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In order to receive an overflow of all that is good and healthy,  all parts must be clean and up to par. The act of cleansing ourselves from impurities is easy to put off. We think,”I can hold on to this habit a tiny bit longer.”

Nothing is more detrimental.  Some may say it’s simply laziness, I think it’s an excuse. Cleaning is hard work. It takes time. And we hold on tight to our time. It also take sacrifice. And sacrifice requires us to let go of something we clutch close to us. I know for me, I’m afraid of sacrifice. That’s right, afraid. I find it hard to believe that God could bless me with something better, or that worse, my sacrifice won’t be replaced, and that I’ll have given it up all for nothing.

That’s fear intermingled with doubt. Two very dangerous emotions.  If we trust the little black specks to disappear on their own we have some serious heart matters to deal with. If we doubt that we will be content with what God provides, or fear that He won’t provide at all, we’re choosing to settle. We’re choosing to settle than less than God’s best.

This fear and doubt is very real in my life right now. One thing I know for certain is that once I take time and care to clean up the mess I’ve made, I won’t regret it. Once we wipe away all the cheap and cast away ingredients, what’s left is rich and unlike anything we’ve ever tasted before. Why is it so hard to accept a taste of what we’re already thirsty for?

Here’s to the dirty work!

-Kayla

Thirsty

http://tap.unicefusa.org

Thirsty. 768 million people are thirsty. Oh, so thirsty.

The UNICEF Tap Project is trying to provide assistance to  those staggering numbers. All you need to do is put down your phone. It’s that easy. (Or is it?) For every ten minutes you don’t use or touch your phone, national sponsors partnering with UNICEF will give a day’s worth of clean water to one of those 768 million people.

This challenge was just too good not to share.

Some ideas for those of you who “must” use your phones during the day:

1. Do the challenge while you sleep. At some point in the day, your phone has to be put down.

2. Be strategic. Plan a block of time to answer your e-mails, update your FB status, post your Instagram pictures etc. You can start and stop, BUT, if you do, be sure jot down the number of hours/minutes you stopped at.

DO something with all the time you would’ve spent on your phone.

How long can you go?

-Kayla

P.S. I’m  currently at 2 hours.

A Paintbrush Is An Ordinary Object

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with persona poems–as I was a couple of weeks ago– a persona poem is an attempt to tell a story or paint a landscape through the eyes of another person. The poet must lay aside their own biases and even voice in order to effectively do justice to the person they are attempting to essentially be. I chose to write about Mother Teresa to write about because I’ve always admired her ability to see the power in ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things. We can learn a lot from her story.


Mother Teresa

1946

Mother Teresa  1946

The streets of Calcutta perturb me.

Ditches, slums, and waste.

The busyness and disquiet

muffle the sounds of the poor and sick.

I see big dark eyes searching for light in dark alleyways.

The hungry cries of malnourished little ones pierce the air.

The noise reaches deaf ears.

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely

and the unwanted.

They too, deserve our love.

I received a call from God.

Now I live with the poor, as a ghost, blending perfectly in. Alongside them,

in a position of authority I work like

a servant.

My only adornment is a blue-bordered sari.

Attention is not what I seek.

I consider myself a little pencil in His hand.

I am an artist. Drawing His picture.

I believe in doing small things with great love,

In helping one, rather than none.

Long ago I turned my back to worldly pleasures.

I turn my eyes upward to

my Creator and it was then

that he opened my eyes to what He sees.

The world is my canvas.

Revised on March 13, 2014

Pixie Perfect

I chopped off all my hair.

April 2014 photography by EdCC TritonLife.
April 2014 photography by EdCC TritonLife.

I thought about it for an incredibly long time, but if I’m really honest I was incredibly terrified.

I waited until the most opportune time, and sure enough, my school was doing a locks of love event.

I was scared, even though I knew it would grow back–if I wanted it too. I became even more scared when they sat me down in front of a mirror to do the ceremonial cutting of the pony tails.

It took chopping off all my hair to realize how incredibly hard it must be for men — women in particular–to lose part of their identity. Because whether we admit it or not, hair is something that defines us women and it’s part of what makes us feel beautiful.

I would never go so far as to say I now know how it feels to struggle with cancer or alopecia or other diseases or treatments which cause hair loss. But here’s to hoping that this experience, has broadened my perspective more and maybe increased my ability to empathize.

I don’t mean for any of my posts to inflict guilt, just provoke thought so take away what you will from the following: I believe in giving what we have. If I possess hair that grows back, but others do not, why should I not take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity to share my treasure that God has bestowed upon me?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

3 Peter 3:3-4

P.S. I cut my hair all the way back in April of 2013. I kept pushing off this post because I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing. Don’t be afraid of telling stories. You are completely unaware of the wonderful actions your story could inspire.

Four Years, Four Lessons

@Kayla Nicole
Louisa and I

Today marks four years since a devastating earthquake demolished Haiti, a country already deep in poverty and full of economic woes. In the summer of 2012, this country taught me four lessons I will never forget.


Love

Today I realized that actions speak louder than words. The language barrier must be broken down by finding new ways to communicate. 

If I speak in tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.

1st Corinthians 13:1-3

Journal entry from July 25, 2012.

Thankfulness

Every time I think of Windy,  he reminds me to be thankful and value every single second of every minute, every hour, every morning, every evening, every night, seven days a week  of every single month of the year.

I took away many things from Windy, but the most important thing I learned is to value life. To value every second of every day. I was convicted strongly when I thought of all the HOURS I’ve spent worrying and not doing. Even during this time of sickness he [Windy] refused to be anxious. 

Journal entry from July 26, 2o12.

Faith & Trust

My friend, lets me tell you something, when you already say God has control, your bad situation gets worse or even you saw you are in front of death; you must say you are good in Jesus’ name. And God will say you have faith say you have faith in him. So my friend, I am very good in Jesus Christ.

Windy’s favorite bible verse was Exodus 14: 14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.Windy was a ddisciple, servant,pastor, teacher, friend, brother, son,student, Kirk Franklin fan, father to the fatherless, pastor, EMT, founder of the Jehovah Nissi school in Cite Soleil, dreamer. 

Windy Sauver,  March 22nd, 1985-December 9th, 2012

Thank-you Windy for teaching me to see the beauty in the broken.

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