Do you ever study different characters in the Bible and find yourself in awe of how the stories weave themselves into a series of intimate relationships with God, massive battles, years of waiting in deserts, prisons, and the wilderness, courageous obedience to take on giants and powerful kings…and read as though it’s a different world?
I often find myself, without meaning to, seeing the God in the Bible as a different God than the one I pray to today. I see the characters and with no ill-intention set them on a higher level and think of it simply as the past. I think of myself as just a somebody…who has had some pretty crazy encounters with God, has seen Him work miracles in my own life, bring redemption to my story, write it against all my own human planning, and yet I still separate Him from the God I read about. Every once in a while I get drawn back to this earth-shaking realization that the God who ask David to kill a giant and still chose to use him when He sinned greatly, the God who asked Esther to face a powerful ruler and risk her life, the God who made a promise to Abraham that didn’t seem humanly possible, the God who told Moses, the man with a speech impediment to demand that God’s people be let go….the God who sent his son…it’s the very same God. And then I’m reminded that in all of those stories, these “characters” on a page, were real. They were young people sitting in a field watching sheep all day, young girls just going about their daily chores, a mother protecting her baby’s life by sending him off in a basket.
They were just people.
People who chose to step out in obedience when God called, who chose to believe with such reckless abandon that they opened the door for God to work…people who were probably scared, unsure, and sometimes maybe even stressed out. But they chose to take on the adventure. And often they chose to forget…they chose to disobey after everything God had done.
Again, I read these stories separating myself from the reality of the human beings that actually played the roles. I wonder why in the world the Israelites could forget so quickly what God had done….surely if I had walked straight through the sea I would never forget God’s faithfulness….right? Surely if I was stuck in the middle of a desert with nothing to eat and food started falling from the sky I would never complain about the provision like they did….right?
We serve the same God. They were just people. I am just a person.
I so often forget. The God who wrote those stories and asked His people to walk in obedience is the same God who today is writing my story and asking me to walk in obedience. He is the same God who has been a comforter in loss and grief, a miracle worker in times I shouldn’t have made it, a provider in times of need, and the writer of great adventures.
How easy it is to forget in times of waiting or uncertainty. To lose sight of His faithfulness and the intricate detail that has been put into the twists and turns of my life. How many times will I have to kick myself and run back into His arms like a toddler who just realized she threw a fit for no reason? How many “Lord give me patience” prayers do I need to pray before I realize that the waiting I’m sitting in is to teach me that patience? Then I’m reminded again…of that same God who sent a son to fulfill my need for a savior. My need for redemption.
This may be just me, needing to write out a reminder of the fact that God is so much bigger than I tend to allow Him to be, that I often to put things in their neat little “Kelsey made” boxes so they fit into what I can comprehend…but I want to encourage you to take a moment today and realize that you are a part of something huge. You play a role and have the choice to step into that role, take on courage in the midst of fear and doubt, obey and accept that you are a Child of God just as much as those characters on a page. You get to choose to be patient in the waiting for promises, be courageous in the face of seemingly impossible battles, and be comforted in the times when it seems like you have been forgotten.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much we are influenced by everything around us. We are all pretty aware that media has a huge influence and it’s talked about often. But when I really start breaking everything down, conversations I have with girls, my own desires or insecurities…I start to notice a pattern. They all stem from some sort of influence.
As I scrolled through Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter today with the mindset of how things influence….several things started to stand out…Ads about ways to use makeup to completely change your face, diet testimonials, girls status’ joking about being single and “needing” a boy, scripture being used out of context to fit and justify someone’s desires….
And then I see other influencers…a business birthed out of someone’s pain and desire to encourage others, Mom’s reaching out to other moms for support, encouraging ads trying to shift what the media tells us our bodies should look like, single girls embarking on adventures across the globe to live life and serve others…influences that tell us to be encouraged where we are and live fully with what we’ve been given.
If we truly took a moment to strip away the negative (sometimes disguised as positive) influences and ask ourselves if we would make the same decisions or have the same desires if we hadn’t seen those ads or read someone’s status, or listened to that well-meaning advice, I think how we live and the steps we would take would be drastically different.
By now you all know that I am a huge advocate for living your single life well and living it fully, so I’ll go with that example for the moment. I am constantly shocked with how bombarded single people are with the pressure and push to find a mate. Whether it is through media, during family gatherings, or very commonly…in church…the typical questions are spilled out with all good intentions, however sad repercussions…”So, do you have a girl/guy in your life?”, “When are you going to settle down and get married?”, “I’ve been praying for a spouse for you”, You’re being too picky”…. or there are the sadly misleading comments from married couples that lead you to believe that marriage is a fixer, a completer or a fulfiller…. “She’s my better half”, “He completes me”, “Now that we’re together, I’m happy”, “Life was miserable, until he came along.”
Then there are the ones that always ruffled my feathers and made me feel like I was diseased after I responded with “no, I do not have a romantic interest in my life”…”Oh, that’s ok, I’ll be praying for you”, “Why would someone like you still be single?”, “Maybe you aren’t trying hard enough”, “I’ll set you up”, “If you keep working and traveling so much , you’ll never meet someone.”
These cause us to feel pressured, unworthy, weird, or not living up to what is expected.
Girls, I would like to apologize to you all for the times you’ve been made to feel like you aren’t complete, valued, and seen due to your lack of the opposite sex clinging to your arm. And I would also like to go out on the ledge here and say that all the ads that are constantly bombarding you with how to put your make-up on to look better, or what swimsuit to wear to look sexier, or what you should and shouldn’t do to get the prize that apparently many think is a spouse….they are one of satan’s greatest tools- distraction; used to get your eyes off Jesus and the full, adventurous, crazy life He has set before you. It’s a distraction to keep you from living, growing, challenging yourself, and becoming a more beautifully, independent, identified, complete in Christ, human being. I know that if I sat down with the majority of you, you would argue that it is something that you can’t help but desire, or you can’t get your mind off of it, or you just want companionship….or that God has put it in your future to have that spouse. I want to challenge you to do some stripping away and digging. Some real diving into your heart, by yourself, without anyone else. Ask yourself “why?”…why do I have that desire or longing. Ask “where?” Where did that come from. Ask “who?” Who has been speaking into my life. And ask “how?” How are those voices influencing my desires.
Hear me out…God may very likely have someone for you. He may want to gift you with that companion and teammate, He may have someone who will allow you both to live out His plan for your life even better together. BUT….that person He may have for you….may need you to walk through some lessons in patience so that you can help challenge him, maybe you need to travel and experience new cultures because you will be more prepared and mature when God asks you and your spouse to move to another country, maybe you need to live with friends and experience the conflicts and difficulties of sharing life because you grew up an only child…..I could go on and on with examples of the maybes and what ifs. My point is that if we serve an almighty God who loves you so much that He created you just as you are and wants the best for you….than maybe, maybe we should set aside some of those influencers and get back to the heart, ask Him what He wants to do in YOU, as an individual, during this season of life. You can choose to make your single years some of the most beautiful, treasured, growth filled years of your life…which will allow your possible future spouse to have a more complete, well-rounded, secure individual to walk the other seasons of life with.
There are some girls I grew up with who have decided to live fully and as I’ve recently been watching their social media and reading their updates I’ve found myself wishing I could display their journey for all of you to see…I’ve been watching them travel together to the other side of the planet, give up the comforts of life as young girls and go love others, serve the orphaned, watch sunsets on safaris, face travel issues and miss their families. But mostly what I see is girls finding their fulfillment and identity in Christ and taking hold of the season by the horns. It’s beautiful to watch and I pray that if it is in their future, that their future spouse would be doing the same, living life fully, because they are going to make an awesome team with great adventures to embark on.
Don’t let go of desires….don’t just ignore longings, but search where they are coming from and why they are there. Find solid married couples who will walk with you as an individual and be honest with you about the challenges and joys of marriage, search your weaknesses and be intentional about working on those, challenging yourself. Explore! Go out and explore this big world…maybe God is just waiting for you to take the step so He can reveal to you a whole new passion for your future. Don’t wait to start life. There are so many opportunities waiting, don’t take timing and control into your own hands. Walk forward living life now, with whatever circumstances you are in and know that God is so big, He doesn’t need our help rushing timing or trying to twist things in our own control, He needs your heart, willing and obedient, free of distraction, ready to run with abandon towards a full life He has laid out before you.
There is always a project going on at our house whether it’s for us or a project for a friend or client…I recently did a full decoration job on a friend’s office and had several fabric dying projects….so since I had the stuff out and the mess made, I figured I would give our curtains a little facelift and add some more color to our room.
I had two plain, pure white, sturdy curtains that I had found years ago on sale…Ikea also sells perfect curtains for this project. I love white curtains especially when the light shines through, so I didn’t want to fully take away that feel. You can go as full coverage as you would like or as much of an ombre as you want.
- tarp or plastic drop cloth
- large bucket
- Dye (I use Tulip or Rit)
- stir stick/plastic spoon
- hot water
Directions for the dye may vary depending on the brand you get, but generally you fill the bucket with hot water and sprinkle in some salt. Then add the dye.
I dampened the curtains with cold water first, it helps the dye soak in more evenly.
If you are doing a faded style dip it in all the way up to where you want the dye to end. Timing will vary depending on the richness of color you want. I started out dipping and only leaving it in for a couple of minutes and then pulling out a few inches, adding more time for each layer so it gets darker as you go.
When I was done I liked most of the teal, however it was a little too bright still. I already had a bucket of dark grey so I dipped a few layers in the grey to add a deeper tone. Don’t be afraid to mix colors, just allow it to dry between.
When you are finished with each color hang it over a railing and hose it off, being careful to not splash any on the white or un-dyed section. Hose it with the cold water until you don’t see color running out anymore. Then leave on a railing to air dry.
Once it’s mostly air-dried throw it in the dryer to set it al finish up the drying process and ta-da. You are done.
We walked down the well-worn path telling story after story as Matt listened in, getting a glimpse into our past life. It was a weighted feeling of joy mixed with emotion and pain remembering the many life altering moments…standing in front of the dorm where Jenna and I first met freshman year…where we immediately became best friends, walking by the steps into the woods where I got the call that hit me like a ton of bricks, stepping into the quiet library where I spent late nights trying to cram as much information as I could into my exhausted brain, driving past spots where Jenna and I took study breaks to have random photo shoots…
It was a reminder that we have conquered many obstacles and had too many memories to count…
We walked down the hall of the Science center…again, spilling our stories to Matt about how we made up songs for an exam in this room, we had a night class in this room….our favorite professor that we nannied for has her office here…And then we noticed the door was opened. We stepped into the doorway to knock and the reality that we had stood in this same place together so many years ago hit hard….we have stood in the trenches, in the struggles, through the fights, through the tears….and we are still standing…here…together…I think our professor was just as emotional when she turned her chair and saw the two of us…five years later…standing together. She had watched us struggle through group projects, have fun outings with her little girl, and go on international ventures as best friends and at times….somewhat enemies.
It was a short trip and short visit to show Matt the college we went to, yet packed full of years of memories that continue to solidify the weight of having a best friend. Which led us into the next day…My little brother graduated college and I could not be more proud, but that is another story for another time. A few months ago we had let two of his friends stay at our house in Nashville, however, we weren’t there when they stayed so it was our first time meeting them. Two, sweet, best friends who reminded me so much of the college best friends from long ago. I knew they needed to meet Jenna so they came over late that night and we all cozied up in the living room with our bowls of ice cream to share stories. It was like passing on a legacy of friendship…sharing our stories and the hard times, letting them know there are obstacles that seem like they are impossible to jump over and it may be the end…but that a friendship like that is worth fighting for….especially as the transition out of college and into the next chapter begin. It was encouraging to hear stories from other best friends that they have often felt misunderstood or made fun of for being a cutesy little pair. People not understanding how deep-rooted that friendship is. We shared stories of what it looks like to bring a boy into the picture, the challenges with one best friend leaving for a new season and adventure, and the little moments that take place that should be treasured….
I’m sitting here writing to you girls, trying to figure out some profound thing to share, instead just rambling on about stories from my weekend as my best friend Jenna works across from me studying for school. I’m amazed at how different life looks now compared to when we met almost 9 years ago. We are still working to reach the next dream or goal, many of our dreams and goals have changed, our locations have changed, we have changed. But the one steady thing…the one thing that hasn’t changed from that fateful first hang out in my dingy freshman dorm…is that we are meant to live life together. We are best friends and always will be. And not just your “split heart necklace” best friends…but raw, emotional, messy best friends. Often times I think we are alone…and then we meet others like last night and we get to challenge and encourage each other to keep fighting for the thing that has been lost in our society and generation….true, loving, real relationship.
Whether you are moving to the next grade, graduating high-school and heading into the scary college or new job years, or graduating college and heading into what we like to call “real life” (as if college wasn’t real life enough)…I challenge you to fight for the people God knit into your life, the people who see you for you. Jesus gives us the perfect example of community and relationship. He had his relationship with the Father first and foremost, but then he had his two closest friends/disciples, and then his 12….You will lose touch with many, some will drift apart, others will be gone for a season and come back in down the road…but then there are those unique, special ones that continue to grow with you as you maneuver through life’s obstacle course. Hold tight to those. Those are the ones that will challenge you, keep you accountable and help you grow…while bringing a richness to life and knowledge of love you never knew existed.
all right y’all. this recipe is a favorite amongst so many i know. it is the one thing that i make for any BBQ, any dinner party, any picnic, and really anytime i need to bring a dish to an event. my husband can eat this as a meal and has already given the recipe for this glorious dip via instagram… but if you haven’t seen it yet… hear ya go.
1 rotisserie chicken
2 8oz packages of softened cream cheese
1 package of shredded cheddar cheese
1 jar of “wing time” buffalo sauce (of course you can use another brand if you prefer… but i’m tellin ya that this specific kind makes all the difference in the world- you can find it at whole foods)
1 bag of delicious chips of your choice
shred all of the white meat on the chicken
blend together the cream cheese and buffalo sauce until smooth
fold in chicken and 3/4 of the bag of shredded cheddar
once all mixed together pour into a 9×13 pan and even out
top with the remaining cheddar cheese
bake at 350 degrees for 35 min
I know all my healthy conscious friends are cringing right now even reading the title…I normally would too…however…
I’m going to be really transparent right now and just admit that it’s been a gut-wrenching, hard to keep my head up, cry at random moments in the grocery store, season these last couple months. When you’ve felt God calling you to drop everything and run in a direction that gives no promise of great riches or stable provision you can assume it won’t be easy. Yet, somehow I always seem to find myself in the moment of questioning and doubting, wondering if we made the right choice, if God really is going to provide, if all He promised will really happen. Which is always followed closely with a gentle smack in the face and another emotional moment of realizing I’ve forgotten that He has never left me with needs un-met or promises un-kept. I just often times think I need more than I really do and I easily forget the uncountable fulfilled promises that have already taken place.
It’s been a season of Ramen.
We’ve spent nights tearing up over our bowls of Ramen noodles, hanging tight to each other and looking into each other’s eyes with pain and questioning. Wondering why the path seems to be so heavy laden with thorns and road blocks. And other nights laughing over those same steaming bowls of doctored up ramen as our house is slowly losing furniture due to making the preparations for yet another new start….realizing that these moments will be reminisced upon in the future. They are memories and stories that will be treasured for years to come. Following your dreams is not easy. Being obedient to God is also not always easy. Realizing that God always provides, but that, that provision may not be what you think it should be….is not easy. I’m reminded over and over again that in every one of those “not easy moments” choosing to find joy, choosing to laugh through the moments makes the road more enjoyable. It gives me the opportunity to really live. Gratitude and thanks always seems to result in joy…not always happiness…but joy. Laughing through the tears as another Ramen packet is pulled again from the pantry…as we joke about the gourmet options…oriental? chicken? or beef? Smiling to myself, as I genuinely feel like I’ve conquered a small battle because I’ve discovered how to make peanut Thai with a packet of Ramen to serve my husband “a real meal”. It’s finding joy in the now…not in just trying to get to the next chapter.
I’m so easily caught up in the woes of tomorrow, feeling like God is waiting to provide until it seems like it’s going to be too late. I get so overwhelmed that I sit in despair. I forget that even though it more often than not is in the eleventh hour that God’s provision or clarity comes through…that He still comes through. And that when He promises something….when He calls you to step out…you must hold to that promise through every moment of the battle, through every unexpected swing and shut door, every punch in the gut…..every bowl of Ramen.
I’m trying to face these moments with anticipation, hope, and laughter…soaking in the moments, counting our blessings and being grateful we have each other to walk this road together. Grateful for fulfilled promises…even when we can’t always see the fulfillment quite yet. Knowing the promise has been made. Finding joy in the adventure of life. I try to write a quote or verse on our chalkboard wall that fits the season we are in…and our most recent one is “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen”…always believing that wonderful is a moment away…even if it’s sitting in the dim-lit kitchen, the laundry tumbling in the dryer and a fresh cup of coffee in front of you, breathing in a quiet moment….it doesn’t need to take much to make a moment wonderful. Find the Wonderful in your journey…even if it is just a simple bowl of ramen noodles.
Chaos had commenced.
Company had arrived, cars were packed, bike racks were loaded.
Everyone was ready to go.
For some reason, I was having an issue and butting heads with my mom. I honestly don’t remember what the issue was, but that I was too strong headed to give in.
The result was that I would have to stay back and not be included in the mountain bike outing…which to this scrawny, little Colorado girl was like telling a southerner they would have to miss the most important football game of the season. It. was. not. a. pretty. sight.
After throwing quite a fit, I watched out my bedroom window, which happened to have the perfect view of our long winding driveway through the woods, and as soon as I lost site of the cars I began my plan.
I had my awesome stirrup pants on, B.U.M. over-sized sweatshirt (I’m pretty sure I just saw this exact outfit at Forever 21), and bright teal, ribbed socks…obviously pulled way up over the stirrup pants.
I have a weird memory for unnecessary details.
I ran downstairs and pulled on my worn out hiking boots, not even bothering to tie the laces and headed out the door.
With frizzy hair pulled back into an attempted ponytail and pink fanny pack strapped on tightly I began my journey.
The only thoughts going through my head were “I will NOT miss out on this day” and “dear Jesus keep me safe and help me remember how to get there”
Let me break and give you a little visual of where we lived. Our house was hidden way back into the woods, you had to go down a dirt road, over the river, and through the woods, to grandm…I mean to my house.
Town was 6 miles away, the mountain bike trail another 2 miles.
I was going to walk. No one was going to stop me.
And I did.
I trudged down that dirt road, untied boots, wild hair and fanny pack making me quite a sight. I hit the main road and kept on trudging. A car pulled over and asked if I was ok, I didn’t even stop, just said my parents were just down the road, kept my head up high and kept walking (although the reality of the situation hit me slightly at that moment). No one could make me doubt my journey and distract me from the finish line. Looking back I chuckle at what a crazy sight I must have been, and shudder at the thought of a child embarking on such a dangerous, stupid journey.
But, despite the dangers, the blisters, and the heat I pushed on with extreme determination.
Imagine my mom’s shock when I came walking through the woods towards them. She cried, yelled at me, hugged me, and kept staring at me out of shock and concern that her ten year old was standing in front of her alive. She then went to the “what ifs”… “what if you had been kidnapped?”, “what if you had gotten lost and we didn’t even know you were gone?”, “what if…..” All the “what if’s” that I had refused to give thought to when taking off on my escapade.
Now mind you, I am still as strong headed and determined, just a little more logical and tactful than that 10 year old girl. I’ve add years of hurts, pains, and journeys, opened the doors to “what if’s”, “buts”, and a wandering focus, easily distracted by outside questioners instilling doubt.
I’d be lying if I said a part of me is jealous of that 10 year old.
When did I allow the distractions and doubts influence my faith and trust in the journey God has promised and set before me? So many times I find myself weighing out the potential issues I may face, questioning if I should just sit back and let others head off on the adventure or I get distracted by the “cars” asking if I was sure I knew where I was going. I get caught up in needing all the right tools…gps, strong shoes…all the questions answered before I just jump onto the dusty road. I wasn’t positive where I was going, but I had an innocent trust that I would get there if I kept my focus on the goal, as an adult I now question that, lose focus, get distracted. I take my eyes off God’s constant provision and promise. I forget the journey’s I’ve walked with less than perfect tools to get there and the ways God was able to lead and use me despite that lack.
That little crazy haired girl is still so much a part of me and I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to strip away the “comforts, worries and concerns” that come when faced with a decision, obstacle, or journey and instead dive in with reckless abandon moving forward with a determined focus. Even if I don’t exactly know where the “finish line” is. Knowing that God will guide my steps even when I can only see one step ahead.
Sometimes we need to relive some of our childhood moments (even if they were rebellious, scare the crud out of your parents moments) to be reminded of the things that have been added through the years that weigh us down and hinder us, as well as the things that have shaped us and guided those traits into useable assets.
Don’t miss out on this day. Don’t let someone else go have the adventure. Don’t let all the side whispers and voices distract you from God’s promises. Push towards the goal God has set before you. If you don’t know what that is, just take a step, trust. Know that God has not called you to stay back, but to pull on your worn boots and walk the dusty road.
Disclaimer: This is NOT me saying it is ok to disobey your parents or rebel. Simply an analogy from my childhood
Hey girlies. So I want to share with you one of my all time favorite DIY projects that is so so easy and makes GREAT gifts. I’ve made these for Mother’s day gifts, Christmas gifts, Birthday presents, etc. I have probably exhausted the option of coasters as gifts by now so I am passing it on to you.
Here are the supplies you will need:
- Plain white tiles (Home Depot or Lowes has them ranging from 40-60 cents you don’t need fancy)
- Modge Podge (glossy or matte your choice)
- Photos (I order my Instagram photos from Postal Pics and they fit perfectly on the tiles)
- Paint brush (for the Modge Podge)
- Spray Polyurethane (in the spray paint section)
- Cardboard for spraying Polyurethane so it doesn’t stick
Start with your tiles and Modge Podge your photos on like this: (excuse the bad iphone pics, my camera is currently broken)
Let dry. Once fully dry take your Polyurethane and spray each tile until completely coated…edges included. It needs to have a nice full coat so there are no open bubbles. Do this in a well ventilated area!