For Nothing.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10

kIt amazes me how much emotions can overtake us.

When extreme joy hits us, it can totally consume us.

When extreme grief hits us, it can also totally consume us.

I have found it hard to write the last few weeks, because both of these extremes have hit me so hard, and it has made it difficult to put into words what to say.

God has been faithful, and as of right now, my sicknesses are somewhat under control. I am getting to parts of my life I was promised. I am getting to watch some friends and family go through incredibly beautiful things.

& In other parts of life, I am wondering where God is. A storm has brewed up the worst, most cruel thing I could possibly imagine. It is not fair. It makes no sense. It chills me to my core, because I do not understand.

I would be lying if I said that God has not heard tears, prayers, and questions as to why things happen the way they do from me lately. Why does this great thing happen to this person, but another receives horrible news constantly?

Joy & grief would be my catchphrase right now for what I am feeling, because things are so good but I see and feel the pain around me.

Has anyone ever felt this?

To feel deeply is truly an amazing blessing, and a horrid curse.

I have been letting the grief win of the two, but I am really choosing to try to focus on the joy, because I am beginning to realize (through the strength and vulnerability of others) that joy can be found even in grievous times.

What is your joy or another’s that has been found in grief? How has it helped you to love/praise God even when all seems awry?

-Kristin

 

 

Assumption.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20

It was about a year ago when I made a decision that would change the way in which I was perceived by others, specifically Christians, forever.

I bought a house and my boyfriend moved in with me.

We made a garden, did projects together, got a dog, argued about what looked best, and made this amazing crazy house a home together. As an unmarried couple.

It was the hardest, easiest thing I ever did. And as a Jesus loving gal, I was slandered for it.

Though people couldn’t see in my walls-they automatically assumed what was going on. Be that their business or not.

So much said to me that I left the church I’d grown to love because it no longer felt like love. Being called out for being a sinner by other sinners is this crazy, weird, mind blowing oxymoron I wish upon no one. For a sin that is out front and center while they are able to hide their own sins in the shadows.

& I’m here today to say that my heart is a little angry still.

Not for myself though anymore, but for others who will one day make decisions that go against what is said in the Bible, and will be told that they are unworthy of the term “Christian”.

People who are too busy worried about others’ sins are quick to judge as they shove their own back into the closet in which they want them to belong.

If you’re a Jesus loving person who knows that Jesus Christ came to this world to physically die a gruesome death in order to save YOUR soul, you are a Christian. That incredible title cannot be taken away.

It doesn’t matter that you don’t live a perfect life on the outside. That you have major demons that you have to fight every day. That you struggle with obedience to God.

YOU ARE LOVED despite it all.

You are forgiven despite it all.

I refuse to accept the notion that God can no longer use or love me because of the choice I have made.

Because I am living out loud in sin, this Christian was no longer able to serve in a traditional church setting. So God took this girl who was outcasted and reminded her of the talents He had bestowed upon her.

Today I still have the great honor of writing this blog which reaches people.

I do my own online women’s Bible study which reaches more people than ever before.

It forced me to go around and see other churches and learn different things about my Savior through them, which lead me to the church I know have the pleasure of calling my new church Home.

God took me from a place where I didn’t realize I was actually stuck and has brought me to this place of freedom, change, and growth.

I’m not saying to throw everything out and run away from God and His will. But if you’re like myself and you find yourself going against the grain and feeling like the world is against you: remind yourself that you are a Child of God.

Beloved.

Cherished.

& That nothing in this world will ever change God’s love and plan for you.

-Kristin

Playing Chicken.

 

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the LORD’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,” -2 Timothy 2:23-25

chickies

A few months ago, a friend and I were driving home at night from a fun time out with friends.  We took the highway and I got off at my usual exit, but unfortunately found out that the road had been closed temporarily due to construction. So we turned and went down a different, dark, back road that we hoped we lead us back to where we needed to be. We went down for a ways and realized it was not taking us where we needed to go so we turned back around and headed back for the highway.

It was very dark out there and it was only two lanes with no real shoulder on the road.  We saw ahead of us what looked like one car passing another. The car that we assumed was passing was in my lane but they were a ways away so I assumed they’d get back in their lane before reaching us.

But they got closer. And closer. And they were still side by side with the other car.

Suddenly, I realized that they were not going to move.

So I quickly pulled off the side of the road-luckily not falling in the ditch below-as these two cars raced by at lightning speed.

They were racing. Playing chicken. With our lives and theirs.

I am very blessed and lucky to say that we did not lose our lives that day, but I think about it often.

Many of us do not like to try anything like that. Risking our lives and seeing who will give first-making it a matter of life or death.

But we do it often when it comes to arguing with others-especially those we love.

Who can be the meanest?

Who will play the victim?

Who will give in?

Who would rather ruin the friendship than lose the fight?

In 2 Timothy 2:23-25, it is discussed how it is a waste of time to fight over silly things. Instead we should focus on the good and come to agreements about things in a civil way. Not in a mean way, not with anger, not with malice. To make it a calm talk in which something is agreed upon together.

But that is easier said than done.

If we quit playing chicken, and offered to listen to another’s side before ours, what good could it do for our world?

-Kristin

 

Hostage Situation.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:31-32

forth

Forgiveness.

An easy word to say, not such an easy word to live out.

The thing with human beings is that we are incredibly, beautifully flawed. We are also so very unique and different in our own ways. Sometimes we are able to find others who are weirdly flawed in the same ways as us and we make them a part of our own personal tribe of friends.

Then life happens.

There are ups and downs and you support each other through the good and the bad. You love each other through the break ups, the miscarriages, the divorces, the job losses, the health declines, the loss of loved ones. You rejoice with each other through the weddings, the birth of babies, the buying of new homes, the new jobs, the remissions, and the opportunities.

We spend so much of our time and energy with these people. So when something happens and they no longer are a part of tribe, it can deeply wound us.

Forgiveness seems like an impossible and nasty word when it comes to YOU having to be the one to give it to another.

But it truly is like setting yourself free when you are able to overcome your own pride and pain, and are able to forgive that person for whatever it is that brought this whole thing on.

I think the hardest thing about forgiveness is that people often do not understand what it means to forgive. When you forgive, you are not giving that person a “get out of jail free card”.  They have done what they’ve done and the past cannot be changed. Forgiveness is saying I recognize what you have done, I no longer will allow my anger/pain from it to take over my soul, and I free myself and you from these thoughts because I am at peace.

Who are you holding hostage in your mind that you need to set free?

If we are being honest here, it is not the other person who is necessarily being held like a prisoner…it is yourself.

Find a way to live out that forgiveness, and be free.

God never intended for us to live a life as a prisoner of our own minds—set yourself free from that which holds you down.

-Kristin

What Plans?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11

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“For I know the plans I have for you…” is a verse that many people use at their graduations and when they move onto new things in life. It is well known, and honestly misused a lot.

Because for some reason, we tend to believe that OUR plans are the same as His. We create these scenarios in our heads, and make these goals/plans for our lives. When those plans fall through or those goals are turned into something else or flat out turned down, we have a hard time thinking about Jeremiah 29:11. How could my plans be different from God’s? Doesn’t He know that I know what’s best for my life?

Nope. 🙂

When we talk about Jeremiah 29:11, we have to remember that they truly are HIS plans. We can plan and plan and plan, but those plans are not always going to be what He has planned out for our lives.

The truth is, you cannot prosper without hard work and even some pain.

You’ll never know what it means to hope if you always have everything you want and need.

You will not be able to have a future unless you’ve had a past in which you can learn from it.

This life we live isn’t an easy one, but it’s so worth it. We may not see the things that are being thrown into our life as good and empty of harm, but they just mean that God’s preparing us for something bigger and better.

Living with Jeremiah 29:11 in your head and heart is a reminder that God loves us through the good, and He loves us even more through what we perceive as the bad.

Not all things are as they seem!

-Kristin

 

In Sickness.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” -Isaiah 40:29

SJ Photography

At the age of 21, I went to the doctor feeling sick and hopeless. I could not stop having painful stomach episodes and as a soon-to-be-teacher, I feared that if I couldn’t get it under control that I would never be able to have this career.

After blood tests and examinations, the doctor diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome-an underlying condition of my overarching issue called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Both names sound pretty awful and they are. But, the doctor gave me some natural suggestions to try first. He suggested the Paleo Diet (which he warned me would be brutal at first and it definitely was) as well as taking a supplement every day and exercising. I did this regimen and for 5 years it worked for the most part. That is until December of 2017.

In December, I became incredibly sick and was convinced I had a bad stomach bug. I was out of work for a week and by that weekend, I was headed to the emergency room extremely dehydrated and weaker than I thought possible.

As I laid in the hospital bed with an IV in my arm, I looked up to the ceiling and felt helpless. I remember closing my eyes and praying that God would save me from this pain.

They ran tests at the hospital and when the tests came back, they said there was nothing wrong with me. This had most likely been a serious flare of my syndrome. I explained to the ER doctor all I had done for 5 years and he said I’d gone above and beyond what I could do, but I needed to contact a specialist because I needed medical intervention now.

I remember coming home, staying up late, and feeling devastated. I’d been a crazy health nut for so long, but I was still sick. I had been fighting taking medication for so long because I believed that only the “natural” way would heal me. But I now have to do the natural way and take a medication each day to allow me to be able to function. An expensive medication my current insurance does not cover. Life just isn’t fair sometimes.

That led me to seeing my primary doctor who wanted me to do blood work to rule out any other issues. & they did find an abnormality. They found something that was serious and needed to be treated, though luckily it was not life threatening. But it would mean another medication and even more strict lifestyle changes.

I am sick. & It is caused by genetics. I could not prevent it.

But it bothers me all the same.

I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t angry. Most of my anger has been directed at God.

I’ve begged and asked to be healed of the things which ail me, but they haven’t subsided yet. Honestly, I’m not sure if they ever will.

I’ve had to listen to “Even If” every single day to remind myself that God loves and cares for me even when it feels like He doesn’t. No matter what I do, no matter what others say, I still often immediately feel anger when I think about these things. I have to make a conscience effort to remind myself of His unwavering love for me even on the bad days.

But yesterday I was sitting outside, and I started to think about it all. I felt the anger and some sadness rise up in me. Then suddenly a huge blast of wind came out of nowhere and shook me to my core. I felt that amazing, only God, kind of whoosh that reminded me that He loves me and that He walks with me through every hard moment and that this time is no exception.

He loves me in sickness, in anger, and in sadness. He will hold me through these times when I don’t feel strong enough to stand. He will comfort me as I navigate this new world I’ve been thrust into.

& Even when I don’t understand and I begin to feel all those feelings, I will cry out that it is well with my soul. I know with everything in me that My God has not forsaken me, and He never will.

-Kristin

Not I.

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”-Song of Soloman 4:7

amen

In 2016, I wrote a post about how I was a survivor of spousal abuse.

I received so many messages from friends, family, and my fellow bloggers about the post. It was a hard one to write, because this is not a fun thing to talk about.

But it is a post I hold near and dear to my heart, and I am glad I shared it.

Because I am not alone.

We are the fighters. We are the ones that cannot be silenced. We are the ones who make people see those for who they truly are.

Though the world may not ever understand the struggles we face and will continue to face-we know.

They try to tear us down. They try to quiet us. They try to make us feel as though we are not enough.

But we refuse to accept those notions.

Not I. Not us.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” from 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God made us to be strong.

Be strong. Be feisty. Be powerful.

Be who God made you to be-not who that person claimed you were.

-Kristin

 

 

Photographic.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”-Matthew 28:11

uno

I do not have a photographic memory. Yet for some reason I have the worst moments I have experienced seared into my brain. I remember exactly what that nasty text message or email looked like. I can see what that person looked like as they gave me horrible news.  I can see the look on the other person’s face as they found I had let them down.

I know exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing when these things happened.

I remember all the feelings: devastation, anger, disappointment, confusion, frustration, futility, and injustice.

Sometimes I visit these memories, and they make me feel all those emotions again.

It not only physically, but emotionally exhausts me.

& I have come to the realization that I do not want to be that person anymore. 

I want to change my way of thinking and processing. I want to focus on the good. I want my memory to change from remembering the bad so deeply to remembering the good times so intensely.

My mindset must change.

I have to CHOOSE to focus on the good. I have to CHOOSE to be in those moments when they happen and be grateful for all the amazing things I have chosen to look over in the past.

I want to choose peace. I want to choose goodness. I want to choose God’s mercy and grace.

What do you choose today?

-Kristin

 

Sweet 16.

I am being given one of the coolest, craziest, scariest gifts ever: I get to turn 26 this week.

I am reflecting on the last quarter century I have lived and am in disbelief of how fast life is going.  I really feel like I was just in high school a minute ago!

I loved high school (for the most part). I do not think it is necessarily an easy time for anyone and is kind of crazy, but I mainly think about it fondly.

But.

I wish I could change some things.

If 16 year old me would listen to the present version of myself I would have so many things to say:

Do not let it beat you down when things don’t go your way.

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV)

Your parents have your best interest at heart: always.

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (NIV)

Follow your dreams-no matter the cost.

1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (NIV)

You will always end up where you were meant to be-even if it is not where you thought you’d be.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NIV)

Love others for who they are, not who you would like them to be.

Ephesians 4:29-32 “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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

God is real and so is His love for you.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

What would you tell your 16 year old self if you had the chance?

-Kristin

 

 

Voluntary Prisoner.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”-Psalm 51:10

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Why is letting go so difficult?

Sometimes it seems so much easier to hold onto something than to let it go.

I have been in multiple toxic relationships that I somehow thought were better to keep than to just let go of. It never ends well, and it usually ends worse than it should have because I just could not let go.

Recently, I have been dealing with toxic friendships.

Friendships that I should have let go of a LONG time ago, that I instead chose to continue with. As with the relationships, they are ending more painfully and way worse than if I had let them when the time came a while ago.

But I chose to ignore that knowledge.

Psychology Today describes a toxic friendship as an “unenviable position of being mistreated by (someone they consider to be) a friend” (Betchen, 2013). You know you are being treated unfairly, but you choose to stay. Even worse, you may even know that you are the one who is treating someone unfairly and you choose to continue to mistreat them. Ever been there? On one side or the other or dare I say…you have at one point or another been on both sides? Me too.

The more we try to hold on, the more painful it becomes. It’s like holding onto a pot as the water in it slowly comes to a boil. It starts off okay, but then slowly it becomes hotter and hotter and more painful.  If we let go as soon as we feel that the heat is becoming too much to bear, and we know that it is not going to get any cooler, we may have some burns but we are not too scarred.

But, if we wait.

We end up with so much pain and horrific scars that never go away. They will eventually heal up, but they will form a scar that we will have to live with for the rest of our lives.

God did not make us to be weak people who allow “friends” to walk all over us. He also did not make us to be bullies who walk all over people and still have the audacity to call them our friend. If you find yourself in either boat, it is time to reevaluate. If you know both parties are not willing and/or able to fix it or you have tried and it did not work: let go.

I feel like people think you are only strong if you suffer through things that you do not need to and basically kill yourself trying to save something not worth saving. But true strength is found in recognizing that it is time for endings and new beginnings.

Let it be. & be free.

-Kristin

References

Betchen, S. J. (2013, January 09). Toxic Friendships. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/magnetic-partners/201301/toxic-friendships.