everyday gratitude

Happy Monday!

I can’t believe it is September already…and nine days in at that! Where did the time go?

I must admit, time has been flying by for me and I have been in a grade A funk for a good portion of it. While I am not 100% exactly sure why the funk has set in, I do know it has been a shadow that has been hard to shake. It has impacted everything – from my parenting to my marriage, from my joy over a new job to starting school again, to my general state of well-being…it can be a tough space to live in. It is not a good feeling to have your life fly by all while you’re on the down side of things.

I don’t know where the start of this week finds you. Maybe you are like me, in a funk and on the cranky side (or, like me, a lot on the cranky side!). Or maybe you have the Monday blues. Maybe you find yourself complaining. Maybe you are stressed, overwhelmed, or tired….or all three! Or maybe you are in a great space; happy and excited and ready to take on a new week…

Regardless of where you are on this Monday, sisters, we have work to do!

We need to intentionally lean into Him and be nothing but full of gratitude. We are all in desperate need of Jesus and some serious awareness and gratitude and awe of what He has done, how He has moved, and how He will continue to move. That should be driving us to worship, to overflow joy, and to be a shining presence wherever our day to day finds us.

We are meant to be light in this world. So today, I am dusting off my light and taking some time to re-prioritize with some time to reflect, pray, worship, and just be with Him.

Whether you are happy or sad, down or ecstatic about everything…in every season of your life, every day, every hour…it’s always time for Him. It’s always a time to shine.

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we’re backkkk!

Hi!

We’re back.

You may have noticed, it’s been awhile. As with anything new, there are growing pains. Challenges.

Not to mention, we are trying to imperfectly point to the ultimate of perfection.

Yeah, there are going to be bumps – thank you, for tagging along and hanging in there as we figure this out. We appreciate it!

Praying for a blessed week for you all – full of grace, prayer, peace, and presence.

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renewal.

Good morning Quotes

Confession. I am tired. Tired with a big, fat capital T. The kind of tired that a 10,000 hour nap wouldn’t even begin to touch.

TIRED.

I am a mom of two wild boys (4 years and 2 years old). I work full time and have class two nights a week with homework and studying to do. I spend a lot of my week running solo. My husband works two jobs so a lot of the household chores and management fall on my shoulders.

It can be a lot to say the least. Some days I take it all in stride and others, not so much.

What is the difference then? What makes or breaks my stride?

Renewal.

In this season of life, I have to be extra intentional about seeking it out, about cultivating it into my day to day. So, with spring on the horizon (at least theoretically!), we are going to spend a few posts chatting renewal.

And for me, renewal comes when I refocus. Renewal comes when I put first things first. When I put Him at the center and let everything else fall into place…that, that right there is the game changer between me taking things in stride and me riding the hot mess express.

So what does that look like for me? I don’t claim to be a genius or perfect at it, but here are a few things I started to make habits that have helped bring renewal….

  • Before I open my eyes in the morning, I pray. For the day, for His presence to be felt, for His eyes and heart for the people and work I will encounter.
  • On the way to work, I pray with my boys for their days.
  • Turning off the radio. This gives me time to think, pray, and just be with Him without the constant ear pollution.
  • Disconnecting from the phone and leaving the TV off.
  • Worship music always – while I am at work, while I am doing housework, while I am putting my boys to sleep – it helps remind me that everything I do is an act of worship.
  • Getting in the Word daily – listening to it, reading it, hearing pastors preach it.

Most importantly, renewal comes best when I remember where my strength comes from. It doesn’t come from the latest self-care craze, over-indulgence, a bottle of wine, or a girls night out.

Renewal comes when I turn back to Him. It is just that simple. 

Matthew 11:28-30// “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


 

 

What I am Loving Wednesday//100 Days to Brave

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Short and sweet today…BUT, if you are looking for a new devotional to add to your quiet time, I would HIGHLY recommend Annie F. Downs’ 100 Days to Brave. I am 50 days in and I have to say, this is the first time I have stuck with a devotional book of this style. I know, I am terrible :).

I love AFD and have been a long time fan so I went in thinking I’d probably like 100 Days. Truth is, I LOVE it. I love her practical words of advice and inclusion of Bible verses. Each day reads like you are sitting with a friend, just talking life. It’s an easy read and incredibly relateable.

I also love how she covers bravery outside of the “normal” context of bravery (i.e. being courageous in a tough or scary circumstance). She applies bravery to relationships, work, and change. They are short devotions that carry a punch and really, truly, have made me think about some things that I hadn’t thought about before…I mean, do YOU have a life thesis statement? Me either…until now, thanks to this devotional!

Highly encourage you to check it out and explore what bravery means a woman of Jesus. You won’t regret it! Happy Wednesday!

a time to speak

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I have been in numerous conversations lately (both in person and online) that were just not going anywhere…or, at the very least, anywhere I wanted to go, should go, or needed to go. Conversations where I really had to decide…should I keep speaking? Speak up? Or is it time to bow out?

Can you relate?

I’m pretty sure many of you would say yes. In society today, conversations seem to be so hard at times. There are so many, countless even, conversations we find ourselves in where we are faced with this choice.

Do we continue?

Do we speak up? If we speak up, what should we say?

Would speaking up be helpful or meaningful? Or is it adding to the noise?

Is this a time to speak? Or a time to shut it down?

As many of you know, the 2019 simulcast of the IF:Gathering was this past weekend. As a member of the planning team for my local IF, I tuned in. HOLY MOLY. It was powerful.

The book of the Bible in focus this year was Proverbs and that is where I have been landing for my devotions. And, when it comes to words, there’s a lot to be said.

Now, I am not here pretending to know how to walk this out perfectly or even saying I do it well. I am here to point to truth and here is some to consider about our words…

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) //The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) // A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:4 (NIV) // The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 16:24 (NIV) // Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

…and those are just a few from Proverbs!

Our words matter deeply. What we say, text, type, DM, Snap, etc….carries a power that we often are not fully aware of or even acknowledge. Or, even worse, sometimes we flat out ignore it and say whatever our sinful little hearts desire. As Hannah Brencher, author and founder of World Needs More Love Letters says, “My words could either be balm or venom. I get the choice daily.”

That’s it. We get a choice. A huge part of that is the decision of whether or not to speak. There are times where our voice is powerful, necessary, encouraging, and healing. And there are times where it is the opposite, where speaking up is diminishing, hurtful, and destructive.

Short and sweet, my prayer for us all is discernment, the courage, and the strength.

Discernment to know the differences.

Courage to speak life where death is creeping in.

Strength to shut our mouths when silence needs to reign.

Because sometimes, the best option is silence. Sometimes, the loudest message is sending no message at all. For there is a time for everything…

season of love//reflections on 1 Corinthians 13

It is February…aka the month of LOVE.

Whether you love it or hate it, this month is all about candy, flowers, hearts, red, pink, and good ol’ LOVE.

To celebrate love, we are going to spend some time explore the infamous 1 Corinthians 13 (verses 4-13 to be exact) passage.

In case you are not sure what passage we are referencing, here’s the one…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Join us as we explore this passage and happy month of LOVE to you!

Watercolor Heart Print - Free!! | this heart of mine

Jill Briscoe + IF:Gathering//my IF story

I love IF. I have been a longtime supporter and attendee of this gathering because I love everything it stands for, the women that speak at the gathering, and the community the gathering creates. There is something incredibly energizing about being a part of women mobilizing on the behalf of Jesus and His kingdom. I am getting excited just thinking about it!

As someone who loves reading words, writing words, and speaking words, I am actually finding it hard to put into words just how much this gathering has meant to me and how much it has challenged me in my faith. With our 2019 IF:Billings event just around the corner, we thought we’d take some blog space to share about IF and what it means to us. With words escaping me, I will try to share what IF means to me.

When I think about why I cherish IF, the greatest thing that comes to mind is the fiery, challenging words that the speakers never fail to deliver. Every single gathering I have attended, I have heard things that have cut me in the best way possible. Hard things. Challenging things. Encouraging things. Things that I needed to hear to break through complacency.  Things that call me up and call me out.

One of those things in particular comes from an IF: Gathering favorite, Jill Briscoe. If you haven’t heard Jill speak or aren’t familiar with her, sister, you are missing out! Jill is the grandmother figure we all need in our lives, a strong woman of faith whose walk speaks to a life well-lived. As a younger woman, I deeply cherish and look up to women like her who serve as strong and lovely examples of godly womanhood. She says words that are worth a repeat.

Words like these…

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These words are a few IF:Gatherings old, but still continue to be one of my favorite quotables because, in the moment, were the exact words I needed (and still do!) to hear.

I struggle a lot with my “calling”, the mission I am put on earth to do. As a working mom of two, it can be hard for me to see what I do as kingdom work…and sometimes I just wish I was called to “more”. I know that sounds icky, so let me explain. I look at missionaries, social activists, people in the trenches and think that they are the ones doing the real work,  exciting work, the work that is making a difference. I discount what I am doing and, as a result, get complacent, moody, and whiny. That’s why I needed to hear Jill so badly. Jill’s words (and her whole talk) spoke a renewed focus and spark to me. I am where I am for a reason. Just because it isn’t on a visible and global level doesn’t negate the importance of my current status. I am placed there for a reason, by God, on purpose.

I have been “sent” and, therefore, I have an obligation. For as long as I am there, I am to unpack. For me, that means settle in. Get comfortable. Get involved. Know who is around me. Put myself out there. It does not mean whine, complain, fight, or try to find the quickest way out. Unpack.

Her words also challenge me to give it my all because it matters. My obedience, dedication, and joy I put in to it…it matters and matters deeply. There is an end game and I need to give my efforts to it until I am called somewhere else. I may not like where I am at, but that does not free me from my mission in the moment.

Go. Unpack. Give what I’ve got. It’s kingdom work.

 

new year. new mercies.

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I love the fresh feeling of a year unwritten, the anticipation of what lies ahead. There is something to be said about the newness that comes with January 1.

Rather than inundate you with my love of new years and resolutions and all the stereotypical rah-rah that comes with this time of year, I am going to keep this post simple and rest it in what matters most this time of year…and all year long.

Let’s start this year strong in truth…so, here are some passages about beginnings, His timing, and His promises.

Ecclesiastes 3:11//He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Jeremiah 29:11//”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 a hope and a future.”

Revelation 21:4-5//He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Isaiah 43:18-19//”Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Lamentations 3:22-24//Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

Happy New Year, sisters. May 2019 be full of Him.

making space for Christmas.

Oh the irony.

When planning out posts for this month, I agreed to write this post because I thought it would be a good personal reminder for me. Refreshing and joyful even.

God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

Because, boy oh boy, do I EVER need the reminder of this post. So, please, pull up a chair and join me as I preach to myself today. You can consider this post all the things Kelly needs to hear (and REMEMBER) on this Monday before Christmas.

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picture via Pinterest

Making space for Christmas. Creating the breathing room for the true reason of the season. 

Something I think we all agree is important…and yet very few of us truly take the time to  do and get right.

I LOVE this time of year. From Halloween on, I just adore it all. The holidays. The traditions. The time with family. The excitement and anticipation of the season and the winding down of the year. It is the best.

Every year, I vow to slow down, to savor, to remember the true reason and spirit behind the season…and every year, I fail to do so. I come close, I make an effort. I still come up short.

This year has been no exception. It feels like everything has been set up to get in my way and distract me. Sickness. Bills. Work. Prep for this. Prep for that. Buy this. Go there. This party. That party. White Elephant Gift. Cookies. Christmas program.

Before long, my calendar and to do lists were so full, so swamped. I have no space…some  of it all is unnecessary, simply burdens I (voluntarily) place on myself because I think the season needs it (hint, it doesn’t). A lot of those things though, are good things.

But good things aren’t the best things and, in the season of best things, I want the bestThe best that is not defined by what parties I go to, the cookies I bake, the holiday crafts and things I do, or the gifts I buy and get. 

No, I want HIS best.

His best that is made of the greatest redemption story of all time, the story that starts with a baby in a manger and changes the world and saves me from myself.

That kind of best demands space to take it all in. Space that just doesn’t have room on a calendar full to the brim with parties, errands, and seasonal to-dos.

Let’s pause for a second. Let’s switch gears. Maybe you aren’t in the same boat. Maybe you have all the space, but the holidays are tough for you. The holidays may be a reminder of what you don’t have that you wish you did/thought you would have/had last year and don’t this year. Maybe the holidays are tough because people have passed, traditions have died away, and you are left with the deep sting of loss. Maybe the holidays have good things in them, but they just aren’t what you hoped they would be (for one reason or another)…you feel double the negative at grieving the loss of what you hoped for and feeling bad for grieving. Or maybe the holidays are just hard because you find yourself comparing yours to theirs and you feel like you are coming up short and not doing enough or doing it “right”.

Regardless of the why, it can hurt. Hurt badly. You have the space to remember the season, but the pain is just screaming at you, distracting your soul from His best.

I get it. I’ve been there too.

That is why, in the one of the most joyful seasons, we have to fight sometimes to remember. With an ever increasingly secular culture and our own selves as our worst enemies, we have to fight.

This was never what the season was supposed to be about. Don’t let good things crowd out the best things.

What does that fighting look like? For me, it means getting into the Word. Specifically, the story of His Savior’s birth. It means saying no to things like Christmas cards and white elephant gifts. It means less doing and more quiet, contemplating the beauty and glory  and significance of the simplest and plainest birth story ever.

Sisters, in this last week of Christmas, let’s make space. It is not too late. Slow down. Say no to something. Unplug. Don’t overdo it. Remember the true joy of the season. To put more focus on the best thing instead of good things.

Remember. Make the space. He will meet you there.

Luke 2:10-12//But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

Knowing vs KNOWING.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and was really struck by the musings of the host and her guest. It has been weeks since I heard it and I still remember it perfectly. For a gal who has trouble remembering what I had to eat last night, that is impressive! …and speaks to the message shared.

The subject of their musings? Buddy the Elf. 

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Before I lose you, please hang on for a sec! Let me explain.

First of all, if you haven’t the slightest idea of who Buddy the Elf is, he is the main character of the movie Elf. Buddy is a socially awkward human who was raised in the world of elves and Santa. Because of his background, naivete, and complete disconnect with reality, he truly believes he is an elf, even after being told about his very human father. The whole point of the movie is Buddy going to meet his birth father, humorously attempting to navigate the real world and spreading Christmas cheer all along the way.

Where does that leave us?

Well, there is a point in the movie where Buddy encounters a department store Santa. Prior to the engagement (which if you’ve seen the movie, you know it doesn’t go well!), Buddy absolutely LOSES his mind in excitement and joy over the announcement of Santa’s upcoming visit.

“SANTA! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!” is his response. 

He is so excited that he just cannot contain it and has to tell everyone and create a beautiful space for Santa.

And that, dear sisters, is the thought that has stuck with me weeks after hearing it on a podcast.

There is a difference between knowing and KNOWING. One is a matter of head knowledge, the other one of the soul and heart. 

To use the Buddy perspective, there is difference in knowing Santa. For me, I know Santa. I know he is a heavyset, jolly old man who wears a red suit and has a delightful white beard. I know he drives a sleigh and brings presents. But that is pretty much where it stops. I don’t know his favorites, his deepest hopes, and dreams. I don’t know what he likes and dislikes beyond the canned response of “be good, kids”.

But Buddy, he does know Santa. He was close to Santa. He had personal experiences, times spent with Santa. He even knew what Santa smelled like. He KNOWS Santa.

My experience is knowledge driven, surface level. Buddy’s is relationship driven, deeper. Know vs KNOWING.

So where on earth am I going with this?

There is a HUGE difference between knowing God and KNOWING God.

And that difference? It makes ALL the difference. One speaks to knowledge only. The other speaks to a transformed life.

Please do not get me wrong. We need the knowledge of who He is, what He says, those foundational things about our faith. But if that is where our Christian walks start and end, we are in trouble. We cannot just know Him casually.

We have to KNOW Him.

Our words, our actions, our attitudes…they all should speak to that KNOWING. Because that kind of KNOWING transforms lives, makes an impact. It is the light in a dark culture. That is the type of faith to which we are called.

Where are you at, dear sister? Do you know God? Or do you KNOW God?

My prayer for all of us is a relentless pursuit of KNOWING Him and a life that sings the beauty of it.