Thanks, Dad.

“Whatever you do, work heartily for the Lord and not for men.” -Colossians 3:23

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As I watched the USWNT beat the Netherlands in the 2019 FIFA World Cup today I couldn’t help to think back to my own memories of playing soccer.

I started when I was about 6 years and played until I was a senior in high school. Honestly, I cannot say I really enjoyed it. It was really hard for me. I was not blessed with natural talent, which meant whatever I did 100% came from practice and hard work.

My dad was the one who pushed me to go on with it. He said sports make you a better person and as an adult now, I am totally a believer. He told me that like me, he was not at all gifted, even slightly, in sports. He liked to play a variety of sports and he never had an upper hand. We were both short and unlucky when it came to athletics.

He told me that I would have to work harder than everyone else out there on the field to get ahead, and that even still I would struggle.

Oh boy, was he right. I struggled. I was never MVP. Ever.

Every year I won the other awards, awards that I am now so proud of: most improved player, biggest heart, hardest working player, never gives up, most coachable.

I still remember the one time when I was in middle school and I was on a competitive travel team that went all over the southern part of our state. We were pretty good and we were in a the finals of a big tournament. We lost in the last few minutes of the game, and the whole team was devastated. Me, along with everyone else, hung our heads and started to walk off the field before shaking hands with our now victorious opponents.

I will never forget my father on the sidelines yelling to me, he told me to come there right now and he said “YOU GET YOUR HEAD UP RIGHT NOW, AND RUN NOT WALK, OVER THERE AND SHAKE THE HANDS OF YOUR OPPONENTS. I DON’T CARE IF YOU WIN OR LOSE, I DON’T CARE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE DOES YOU HAVE BEEN RAISED BETTER THAN THAT.”

That was the first and last time I didn’t run over there to thank my opponents win or lose, even though sometimes I was the only one doing it.

He taught me that you RUN on and off the field at half time, water breaks, substitutions, etc even if you have to limp and it hurts. He taught me that you say YES when everyone is too lazy and says no. He taught me that you show respect for coaches and referees even when you disagree with their calls (which is funny too because I went on to be both a coach and referee).

He taught me the most important life lessons that I now take into my career and life, and have success because I know them.

I wasn’t the best natural soccer player and even with hard work, I was never amazing. I would never have the opportunity to go on and be a professional athlete. But I was always the one on my team with the most sportsmanship and the most coachable.

You don’t have to be the best. But you can have hard experiences create a better you.

Thanks, Dad, for teaching me the important stuff.

-Kristin

 

Lost, Now Found.

“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” -Romans 12:15 

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I got lost in myself last year.

I wasn’t alright, and I didn’t know how to get back to where I once was. I soon realized that there was no way to go back, I could only move forward and I could never be how I once was before.

My extended family was in a severe accident.  An accident in which I have talked about before on this blog and how deeply it affected them…but I have never talked about how it affected me by proxy.

It messed me up, y’all.

There are words that still trigger my emotions a year later by something that didn’t even happen to me: amputated, Exuma, explosion, ICU.

I struggled with the fact that I was so deeply affected by this. It felt selfish. It felt foreign. I felt lost. 

Empathy is often defined as trying to put yourself in someone’s place as to better understand how they are feeling. I empathized so hard it physically hurt. For months I cried every night over it, and would have nightmares about it.

It’s been a year, and those who went through this have been changed forever. They are not where they once were, but things are somewhat “better” than they were before. They are stronger and have found help and extreme support from their community and everyone they have come into contact with.

I feel better knowing they are doing better, but I am forever changed myself because of it.

I got lost.

But I’m back. Different than I was, but I am back. I have come to realize that empathy doesn’t make me weaker-it makes me stronger. It takes courage to be with others as they go through hell.

& I am so proud of the empathizer that God has made me to be even when it hurts.

-Kristin

 

#BecauseofRHE.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39

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I have felt devastated since reading about the passing yesterday of an amazing Christian writer and woman whom I have never met. I read Rachel Held Evans’ book “Searching for Sunday” a few months ago and it completely changed my life and how I felt about my relationship with God. I saw that she was sick but had no idea it would lead to her death at the age of 37, leaving behind a husband and two young children.

I wish I could let Rachel know how deeply she affected me due to her transparency and vulnerability.  She was a visionary, a rebel, and a Jesus lover. She spoke up for the oddballs and outcasts – the ones who feel alone in a full room of people. She spoke up for people like me (and maybe like you).

She spoke about how doubts are okay, and that we should speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. That loving Jesus also means loving everyone. That walking with Him means walking with those who traditional churches like to rag on piously.  That going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. That not going to church doesn’t mean you don’t love God.

#BecauseofRHE and her bravery, I am more alive in my faith than I have ever been or will be because I now know I am not alone with the feelings that I have.

I choose to live today in honor of Rachel, with praising God for all the beautiful things in life, and accepting that I praise in a different way than most but that I am not any less because of it.

I ask that you pray for Rachel’s family, friends, and followers today as they go through the grieving process of losing such an incredible person. We may not understand why this has happened, but I know on the other side of Heaven someday that we will.

God is good even when we cannot understand. Rest in peace, RHE.

-Kristin

 

Seasons of Struggle.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”-Romans 8:5-6

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Photo by Christina Craddock Photography

Ever feel like you’re just not yourself?

Not being true to yourself. Not being who you know that you are. Not being who God made you to be.

I am going through this cycle right now.

This highs and lows game of life has me on the low side, I am struggling with the feelings of not living up to who I am.

The reality is that I am disappointed in myself. I am struggling with giving myself Grace, and letting go of things that were meant to be let go of.

So I am going to worship, and study the Word, and try to detach from the world for a bit. I am ready to have myself back.

Struggling today. But I know that struggles don’t last forever.

-Kristin

These Are My People.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11

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I have taught English to non-English speaking adults for three years now.  It is at night and if you have ever seen “Here Comes the Boom”, yes it is very much so like that just English and not citizenship…they are getting there though. 🙂

I work 2 nights a week helping the lowest level of English learning students to learn how to speak, read, and write in basic English. I have met people from all over the world, of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. & I call them my people.

They are my people because they are hardworking, loving, caring, and hungry to learn and better themselves. I do not speak any language other than English so the barrier is pretty intense but for the last three years we have made do and learn how to communicate.

Many of them are Jesus lovers, and even the ones who may not know Jesus are kind and respectful to those who are.  I believe this classroom is a small representation of the verse of Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.”

We are a mighty group made of many different things: skin color, gender, age, culture, language, experiences, etc. Yet we are all here together for a common purpose and living on an earth made for us by the One and only Lord almighty.

They remind me every day through their actions and love that Jesus exists and that he puts us in certain places with specific people for a reason. A reason that is beyond what our minds could ever understand to know.

I am thankful today for my people as we continue to move through this world of learning and of life. Who are your people? How are they different from you and yet the same? How do they inspire you to love Jesus and life more each day?

-Kristin

Listening.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of 2019 and I for one am so excited. I often dread the beginning of a new year, change is hard, but this year I am embracing it.

I definitely feel that I am being called to do some new things, and I am wondering how these things are going to play out.

I feel I am being called to stop and breathe. 

Have you ever felt like you keep getting the feeling you need to slow down, or focus more on certain things, or just do important things you have been putting off? That’s where I am at right now, and I am choosing to embrace that.

So I am going to slow down, to check out, to plug into what I know I am supposed to, and to be true to myself and the one who made me.

No real resolutions for me this year, just to be me and to recognize that God constantly whispers in our ears what we need…we just need to listen. This year, finally, I think I am going to listen. 🙂

What is he whispering and calling you to do? & will this be the year you listen?

-Kristin

The Bells.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” -Colossians 3:15

As Christmas approaches, festivities are in full swing. Christmas movies are playing, nativities and decorations are being set up, carols are playing all day long on the radio.

My favorite Christmas song is one I just discovered last year called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” . It is such a heartbreaking, beautiful song and the writer of it has a story that’s even more heartbreaking.

Lost, heartbroken, sad, and lonely he wrote this song and ended it with this big, triumphant “Eff you Devil” attitude that resonates so deeply with me.

He had this awesome, shaky yet strong, faith even in the deepest sorrow. He had this amazing kind of faith that I admire and envy.

It reminds me that Christmas is much more than Jesus’ birth, it’s everything about Him and what He’s done for us. It’s about our faith and beliefs and remembering His ever present love and support for us even in the worst times.

Always choose truth. Always do what God has called you to. Always be the person you’re meant to be.

The wrong shall fail, and the right will prevail. Always.

-Kristin

Slow Down.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

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I am a big believer that each one of us is meant for a greater purpose.  Most of the time, we probably may not even know what it is, but I have to believe that there is purpose.

A purpose for our pain. For our healing. For our losses. For our successes.

There just has to be a purpose and results that come from that purpose.

I knew someone who fostered children and she always used to say that it broke her heart when they would go home or move on, and that she often struggled with the pain of wondering why they’d been brought into her life and she theirs just for a short period of time.

Then she would say, “I remind myself that we may not necessarily get to see the fruits of our love and labor on this side of Heaven, but we will one day on the other side, and it will be beautiful.”

It was a saying I had never heard before, but now years later, I think about it and meditate on it almost daily.

There are so many days where I am not sure I am doing well. I do not know if I am making a difference. There is no half-an-hour episode special in life where you can find out the answer to your problem quickly.

Sometimes there is no answer. I am learning to accept that it is okay to not know everything, and to not be able to see if the fruits of your labor were sweet or sour. God did not ever call us to be perfect. He has called us to love all, ourselves included.

This means we have to slow down.

We have to breathe, and love, and accept that sometimes we really won’t “see” what the purpose is, what our hard work did, what our pain accomplished.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in seeing the results that we forget that the purpose gets pushed to the side. I am choosing today to slow down and wait to see what the beauty of the purpose was when I get to the other side.

What are you excited to find out about your earthly love when you get to the other side of Heaven?

-Kristin

Honesty Hour.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” -Colossians 1:24

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Since becoming a Jesus follower at the age of 22, I have explored and discovered many churches around my town and surrounding areas.

In the short span of 4 years, I have found, loved in, and left many churches.

If there ever was an actual definition of a rebellious Christian, they’d probably have a picture of me for it because I have struggles, and doubts, and I will leave when I can’t take it anymore. I don’t tough it out because I have been burned.

I usually find a church and I stick around for a while. I feel happy, am called to get involved, find myself spending all Sunday at church, find myself spending other nights running Bible studies, then other days being “a light” to others in need in the church.

Before I realize it, I am deep into church and no longer deep into a relationship with Christ. I begin to doubt what it really all means, and find myself doing things out of obligation or selfish means.

Then the gossip begins. Then the political hidden agendas start to begin. I feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

The one big church that I came to love and know so deeply, turned on me. I started getting the literal messages from people who knew me as acquaintances and let me know their disgust with the way I lived my life. The sermons that silently screamed that the way I lived my life was not one that a child of God’s would live. It broke me on top of everything else.

& I RAN.

I rebelled, I kicked, I screamed, I ran. & lately, I am not even giving church a chance. I don’t stay long because I can’t go through with it again.

The church hurt.

I still love God. Churches that are home or not home to me couldn’t change that. But I felt closer with him away from church than I did in His house. 

I stayed away for a while. I started to think, it’s okay, I will just wait for a while until I can get my act together in the eyes of the church. Then I can go to one and feel okay and not feel shameful and can feel happy.

But Rachel Held Evans’ book about the church struggle rocked my world, and made me remember that church is not for perfect people. It’s for sinners like me. And sinners like you. And for pastors and church goers who struggle secretly like us and need church and Jesus just as much.

The thing is I don’t blame church for how I feel. I don’t blame people. I blame sin. It is a sickening piece of us that makes us hateful and judgmental of others, but it is something we can’t help. But its not easy to take the brunt of it.

I am sick of waiting. I am sick of the pain. I am sick of the exhaustion.

But I want Jesus. And for now, I find Him everywhere but the church.

I know that someday, that feeling will be felt in church for me, and I can’t wait to feel it again. But for now, I am where I am, and that is okay.

-Kristin

On My Way.

“Above all, keep your love for one another at full strength, since love covers a multitude of sins.” -1 Peter 4:8

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My Lord is just the best.

I find it hard to use words to describe the incredible love story that He and I have.

He has saved me from myself. He has saved me from the evil thoughts that the Wicked One puts in my head. He has saved me from the belief that I was not worth the fight, the ridiculous notion that I was not worth this life I have been given.

I have been surrounded lately by questions about my faith.

I have been asked why bad things happen. Why horrific, sad, earth shattering things exist in this world that we live in. Why, oh, why?

I have said it before, and I will say it again…

The Wicked One rules this world right now. He will continue to have horrible things happen in order to try to tear us away from God. But God has an incredible response to these horrible and sad things that happen:

He sends us people.

He sends us people we did not even realize we needed.

People who will be strong for us when we are not able to be. People who will hold our hand when we feel like depression is going to swallow us whole. People who will be the light to us in a sea of what seems like never-ending blackness.

So if you’re feeling a little lost today, I ask that you send up a prayer to God. Tell him you are in need of some love and help.

I can guarantee, someone will come along to be just that right when you least expect it.

Have faith, pray, and never give up hope that God is listening always!

-Kristin