something for sunday

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. For me, the best part of being on Spring Break is all the time I have available to read and write. It’s introverted bliss. These are all great articles I read online so just click the title and it will lead you to the site. If you read something awesome lately, comment on the side and I’ll check it out!

What Guarding Your Heart Actually Means by Alex Harmening via Relevant Magazine

I love reading various articles written from different angles about this topic of guarding your heart. Proverbs 4: 23  says”Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” What does this verse mean? How are we supposed to apply it to our lives? Harmening broaches the top well and she has many valid points.

No Degree Necessary by Phil Gathany

If you’re a student like me, this is for you. Phil reminded me that God is going to use me no matter how “ordinary” I am. He’s going to use you too. Jesus’ twelve disciples were about as ordinary they go and they all went on to do extraordinary things.

6 Reasons Why You Should Touch and be Touched More Often by Christina Miller

Four hugs a day. At least. Are you meeting your daily hug quota? Maybe those free hug signs aren’t such a silly idea after all. For a person whose love language definitely isn’t touch, I found this article quite intriguing.

Writers get all aboard Amtrak’s train residency program by Sarah Sheffer

The fact that this is an actual thing just makes me happy.  Amtrak is actually sending people on train trips for one purpose: to write. I’ve ridden the train numerous times. My longest trip was from Edmonds, Washington to Union Station in Chicago, Illinois.  It was quite the  adventure and one I probably took advantage of.

-Kayla

Empty Shelf Book 11: Blue Like Jazz

Title: Blue Like Jazz: Non-religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

Author: Donald Miller

What’s it about: Christian Spirituality. Miller talks about a variety of emotions, such as depression, loneliness, relationships, love, finances and etc. I feel like it’s so, so relevant to young adults. He talks about all of these issues from personal experience which makes it even easier to read.

Why did I read it: I’ve heard so many good things about this book. From youth pastors, favorite authors and peers. I love Miller’s honesty and transparency.

Favorite idea: I underlined something in every chapter of this book, but my favorite idea is this: “I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel, I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. but it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.”

Where you can buy it: (and I highly recommend you do)

How to Join the Empty Shelf Challenge: join

You should really, really, really read this book.

-Kayla

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.”

Waffles vs. Spaghetti: For the Guys

Dear Guys,

First of all, if you don’t plan on reading this entire post read this —>  waffles are much different from spaghetti. In fact, I think the only characteristic the two foods share is the insane amount of carbs.

If you remember this concept, I predict that any sort of relationship with any woman you have in your life will improve drastically. Maybe all it means is that you understand your mom better. Or your friend. Or your sister. Or any individual belonging to the female species. You do not need a survival guide. Or a book.  Or a list of rules. Spaghetti must become your new favorite food. Second only to the Bread of Life. (Cheesy pun intended).

If you failed to notice, girls are really good at not giving away anything. You could be talking to her about one thought  while she’s thinking through a million–at the exact same time. This is called multi-thinking.  To play it safe, assume that if you haven’t thought it, she’s thinking it.

Let’s create a scenario to work with. You’ve just met this girl? You start the small talk etc. Now imagine this, she’s already thinking about whether you’ll be simply friends, or if there are deeper intentions. She’s thinking of the possibility of a first date. Here’s a glimpse at the female brain:

“Does he like me?” “Is he going to ask me out?” If so, “when?” “Where will he take me?” “What will I wear?” “How tall is he?” “Can I wear heels?” “Has he dated another girl? If so, “who?”Is he still dating her?” If not, “why?” “Does he have certain standards, boundaries, and expectations?” “What is he passionate about?”

The list goes on and on and on and on and on.

She’s thinking of every detail. 

NOW, that was an example of multi-thinking. I hope I didn’t scare you. I’m only being realistic. Another thing,  this IS NOT to say all a girl ever thinks about is her future wardrobe and dates.  This is not true at all. If I asked these exact questions with every guy I met I’d be in an even more complex state of mind.

She needs your help, but she forgets to ask. Multi-thinking is a habit that is constantly occurring. It occurs in the subconscious and conscious. It’s exhausting. If you would be a gentleman and  lay out your intentions-whatever they may be- right away, she will be eternally grateful. She’ll only have to think and inquire about what you haven’t brought up. Her brain will be less likely to explode.  Girlfriends have trouble assisting their girlfriends think about one thing at a time. It’s nearly impossible.

If you’re still with me, AWESOME.

As my friend McKenzie would say, “Does that make you feel…good about everything?”

Since you have the enviable ability to think things through slowly and thoroughly, and even one thought at a time, let this marinate your thought process for the next 24 hours. 

P.S. I’m writing a post just for the girls too. What do they need to know about guys? How are waffles distinct?

-Kayla

Writing Is Hard

Writing is hard.

Every writer has this defining point in their writing journey where they ask themselves the questions:

 “Why am I writing?” “Is it all worth it?” “Who should I write for?” “Should I write for high stats, or what’s on my heart?”

I’ve been blogging for a year. I haven’t even reached 2,000 views. I’m pretty sure I get the most views when my mom shares my posts on her Facebook page. My fan-base is limited. (I’m not sure it even qualifies as a fan-base). I’ve signed up for about every suggested social media site one could think of. And, consequently, I haven’t seen much change in my stats.

I continue writing. If I don’t write, I feel as if part of me is missing. Still, it’d be nice for a complete stranger who is more successful than I have been to recognize my work. There is no denying that wishful thinking.

I hate sounding cliche, but no great thing comes easily. Good things come with hours, weeks, even years of hard work.  That’s what I missed when I first began my journey. I missed the tears, the calloused fingers, the rejections, the failed attempts. The ceremonious burning of drafts. The promise to get up, leave, and never write another word. Those are defining moments in any artist’s life. The rise to fame hardly compares to the time spent laboring to arrive at that point.

So if it’s not easy, why do it? I’ll tell you why. Because that one person who is impacted by your writing, makes up for the lack of viewers, the low stats, the rejection letters.

One of my Twitter followers responded to my post stepping away for awhile with these words: “You shine.” Folks, that’s why I keep writing.

If you write for numbers, there’s good chance you might not write anything great at all.

Keep at it.

-Kayla

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

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

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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

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