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I’m in Love

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8

“Home is where the heart is.” Or some would say, ‘home is where you’re from’. I like to think that home is where you put your sweatpants on. But I have never truly understood the meaning of “home” until recently. I honestly believe that home is where the heart is- and currently, my heart is scattered. In the past 5 weeks I have lived in 4 states and 2 countries. I have traveled thousands of miles and slept on at least 5 different beds. (Well, they weren’t even all beds). I’ve been in cars, planes, and boats: Air, land, and sky. And every place I went to, I left a piece of my heart.

It’s weird to talk about. And it’s hard to explain. But until you travel, you won’t understand. I’ve never been a big traveler. I love to go and see new places, but I’m not particularly fond of long road trips or travel days. However, every place I have traveled, I have loved- and I have never regretted going somewhere new. Or old. The point is, I wouldn’t call myself a traveler, but my heart says otherwise. Each place I go, I fall in love with. The people, the culture, the food (most of the time). The colors and the smells. The sounds and the language. Each piece is unique and beautiful. Traveling helps me realize how small I am and how big God is- and always gives me such a wonderful perspective. It’s hard to be ungrateful when you’re surrounded by aspects of God’s artwork that you have never seen before.

Back in April I went to Houston and San Antonio. I had never been to Texas, and it was sucha great experience! It’s similar to Georgia with everyone saying “y’all” and drinking sweet tea with their thick southern accents; yet it’s still entirely different than anything I have experienced. We were in San Antonio during Cinco de Mayo, and being able to experience that culture there was so unique and exciting. I met people that I feel like I’ve known my whole life, and our souls connected instantly. People from churches, prisons, restaurants, and homes. We may have only been there for 2 weeks, but that’s long enough to fall in love. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, it never is. And even coming home with bugbites, sunburn, blisters, and bruises; I’d do it all over again in a second.

Then, I went back to Georgia to visit my beautiful family and all the incredible friends I’ve grown up with. This trip was bitter-sweet though; knowing that this place was no longer where I lived. I missed it, but I knew I was called to leave it for now. Plus, I have grown so much since being up in PA that everything just seemed so different. I was seeing the same people in the same places- but it was like a new place. It was weird. I was also made aware of the new reality that friends who used to be a major part of my life are no longer really involved in it. And that hit me with a whole new wave of emotions. And on top of being home- I was also trying to process all that happened in Texas. Then I also GRADUATED on May 17; so I had all the feels with the school year ending and my next adventure beginning. Needless to say, it was a bit of an emotional trip. In fact, I’m still processing everything that happened.

And after my little sister graduated High School, we all went on a family trip down to Florida to visit my mom’s aunt and uncle! It was a good get-away, and the area was so beautiful! Then we took a trip to Key West and HAVANA, CUBA!!! And I would be lying if I said we didn’t sing “Havanah, Ooh Na Na” multiple times. But in all seriousness- I fell in love again. The whole country of Cuba was spectacular. They are under Communism so it’s an overall very poor and dirty place; however, the architecture was breathtaking. All the buildings were built around the 17th century, and they drive around old antique cars everywhere. Everything has been kept in its original condition and repainted, so there are still bright colors on all the houses! Dogs and cats roam the streets so of course we loved that. And the culture… I can say it like this- The food is good, the music is loud, and the people are so kind. Everyone we talked to was just so sweet and joyful, even in what may seem like a hopeless and lifeless place. I never would have thought this, but I wanted to stay. Maybe not forever, but one day wasn’t long enough. I wanted to explore the beauty, love on the people, dance in the streets, and soak in the sun a little longer. How long does it take to truly fall in love with a place? Well- I think love at first sight is completely true. I fell in love with one look. Every new city, new horizon, new skyline- Each time I see it I fall in love all over again. I may not have had any time to process all that was going on in life and each new transition I was experiencing; but I had time to fall in love. And I did. Everywhere I went.

I’m now [finally] back in PA! Getting moved in and settled into my new home!! (: It’s beautiful and cozy and everything I could want or need in a house. My roommates are dolls, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Except maybe Texas. Or Florida, or Cuba. I’ve never been much of a traveler and I don’t know if I’ll ever be one. After 5 weeks out on the move- I was ready to come back. Ready to have a routine, and a normal schedule. And sleep in my own bed! All that going and doing literally exhausts me. But the minute I leave, I start to miss it. All of it. I don’t wanna leave, I’m ready to go back. And it happens every single time. No matter where I go or what I do or how long I’m gone, I miss it as soon as I leave. I leave my heart all over the world and it’s kinda hard sometimes. All the people: the names, the faces. I hear them talking, I see them laughing. I miss their smiles and hugs. I’m home; yet I’m not home. Because my home is where my heart is. Which is everywhere. I’ve never known this feeling until now. Just as I’m grieving saying goodbye to a place; I go out and fall in love with another one. You don’t have to be on a long-term mission trip or a crazy travel junkie to fall in love with the world. Even on vacations and short trips, I realized how easy it is to invest myself. I’ve learned to be present. Even though I was missing Pennsylvania or Texas or even missing my home in Georgia- being fully engaged at the place that I was at allowed me to receive all that God had for me there, and to appreciate it. It showed me greater perspective and as a result; made it so easy to be thankful and to love people well.

I am daily reminded of places I’ve left behind. The weather makes me think of Houston, the city makes me think of Havana, and driving down back roads today reminded me of Warner Robins. I’m constantly remembering the people I’ve met and the ones I left.  I see faces on the street and do a double take; thinking it is someone I know. Then I remember where I am and get a little sad, wanting to call out the name of an old friend from hundreds of miles away. I love the fact that I now have connections all around the country, and that one day I will be with them all again. But until then- I remember, I think, I smile, and I cry. I pray for them all, and thank God for bringing these beautiful people and places into my life. It isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Even now, as my emotions go wild and my mind swirls; I might be a mess but I’m grateful.

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Take Me Back

“…You are worried and upset about many things, but few are needed– indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:41-42

I have been sitting on this blog for awhile and really needing to write. But this is the first I’ve had time to get down all my thoughts.

Lately I haven’t been good. There, I said it. I have been distracted, stressed, busy, anxious, messy, and lonely. On top of all that, I’ve felt numb. I dread doing my homework; and I have little motivation to get things finished. I give myself no grace for life and become easily angered. I want to just talk to someone and get it all out, but I also want to be alone. This happens, it’s part of life- I just hate when it happens to me. I thought it was going to be a short, bad day thing; but here I am 2 weeks later and still trying to navigate my way through these emotions. Or lack thereof.

I was convicted the other day while doing my Bible summary homework of how little desire I had to be in the word. How much I was dreading it and was just so ready to be done with everything. God gently reminded me of what I was reading. The power of what I held in my hand. Not just a textbook. Not just words on a page. Not just homework. I was reading the living, breathing, word of God. Not only was this a gift to me but a privilege; and here I was complaining about it.  He just whispered to me that even in those days when I felt stressed and overwhelmed- I could find Him on those pages, and enjoy the peace of His love and constant presence. Immediately I whispered a prayer, “God, help me to find you here again. To enjoy you.”

I was reminded of the bridge from a United Pursuit song I had heard several summers ago:

So, take me back

Back to the Beginning

When I was young,

Running through the fields with you.

I sang this over and over in my mind for the next few days. I didn’t really know what I was praying- but all I knew was that I needed God to bring me back to a place of intimacy with Him that I had somehow lost along the way.

These past few weeks- Tons of new worship albums have come out from some of my all-time favorite artists. My girl Steffany (we’re on a first-name basis) released her long-awaited album BLACKOUT, and Pat Barrett from Housefires put out his first EP. I was so excited at the release of these 2 albums; I had them on repeat for days. Also, Hillsong worship was putting out a new playlist that I had been waiting on. All these great songs and beautiful lyrics were just washing over me and being saturated into me. But even in listening to all of this; I felt something missing. Sitting in the youth ministry I was serving at one night, I had a deep realization-

“We don’t need new worship music, we need new worship.”

This was so new and fresh to me. I get bored so easily. I get bored when I read a book too long, when I sing a song too much, when I have to study the same Bible chapter for a certain amount of time. I’m always looking for the next thing, the new thing. I thought new worship music would be what I needed to get out of whatever funk I had been in. But songs that point me to God aren’t what I need. I need the God of the music. The God of the Word. The God of my worship. What everything is about. I needed Him, not just things that reminded me of Him. It’s not enough to stop at the things that point to Jesus- we actually have to get all the way there.

And for me, I actually didn’t need new worship- I needed my old worship back. I needed to refocus, re-center, and readjust my life to what all this was really about. I didn’t need to figure out all the ways to get to Him, I just need Him. The very next night in the book of Revelation (which, by the way, is one of the only books I haven’t actually studied deeply in the Bible) I had an incredible revelation <no pun intended, I promise>.

All I could think while I was reading it was, “Heaven is so complex. It’s beautiful, but so complex.” I think sometimes we over-simplify the glory of God.

When that hit me, it didn’t seem difficult to worship a God that was greater than my understanding and bigger than my mind. Suddenly, worship seemed a lot more real. In that moment, reading my Bible became much less dreadful and much more Holy.

Then last week, I stumbled across the song “First Love” by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. I had heard their album when it first came out a few years back, but never really dwelled on it much except for a couple songs. So after class on Wednesday, I went home and listened to all of it again. Let me tell you- that was a divinely orchestrated encounter. EVERY SINGLE SONG was speaking to me. Some of them for the first time; and some of them for the millionth time but in a whole new way.

Starting with:

// All the way back, all the way back, all the way back, to my F I R S T L O V E.

Just reminding me again that God has to take me back. Take back my worship, take back my prayer, take back my reading, my serving, my life. Taking it back to the beginning when it was a raw, real, simple faith. Nothing more. Not complex or busy or dreaded. Simple Love.

Then their song “Outrageous Love” (something about these love songs) which I had never even heard before. It hit my heart in a place that was so real and raw and true. I couldn’t stop playing it and singing the bridge over myself as the words sunk in again and again. Deeper and deeper.

// There’s nothing I could do, that would ever make You… Love me more;

// There’s nothing I could do, that would ever make You… Love me less

What the heck, guys? This is outrageous. It’s crazy. It’s unfathomable. How on my days where I’m just not feeling it I can get mad and blame God. I can love Him less on the Mondays and the crazy work nights and the days where my homework gets long. I can whine and complain and cry. And He NEVER loves me less. And then some days I can sing to Him, I can play guitar, I can write music. I can fall deeper and deeper in love with Him as I share His heart with everyone around me. And He NEVER loves me more than He did before. I still can’t believe this. I don’t deserve this kind of love. I never have, and never will. Never could. But that’s why He gave it. It wasn’t earned, and it can’t be taken away.

Today in my Bible I read in Luke 10 the story of Mary and Martha. This is one of the shortest passages in the Bible and probably one of the most talked about, also. But personally- I’ve never gotten anything super deep or crazy out of it. Today, though. I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the next page. I stopped and just wrote down the verses word-for-word.

“Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said… But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made… ‘You are worried about many things, [Martha] but few are needed- indeed only 1. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

So often, I am a Martha. I like to say I am a Mary; I pray to be a Mary. But I get distracted so easily by school and homework; by guitar and worship; by missions and serving- that I forget to just sit and rest at His feet. To just listen. To just be. Even several weeks ago I got a word and shared it with the class:

— > Your soul can be at rest even when your body is busy. Even in life when there is so much going on and so much to worry about- your spirit can be fully at rest.

I took this word and I held it and I prayed into it. I knew this was a busy season but that it didn’t have to take away my peace. I believe God is still teaching my soul how to rest; it’s not something you can learn in a day. Doing things for God is not the same as being with Him, and I was reminded of this hard truth over these past couple weeks. I had lost Him in trying to find Him. I realized all that I needed to do was to stop trying and start resting. This is so much easier said than done. I want to be a Mary. That is my prayer. That God would take me back to just being with Him. Sitting at His feet, running through the fields, being relaxed in the midst of life’s demands. Finding my new worship; or in this case, going back to my old worship. That is my prayer.

I’m not writing this blog because I have mastered all of this and to tell you how much better I feel now; how much God has done and how far I have come. Normally, my posts end like that. But today- I’m still in the middle of my journey. I still feel numb. Homework is still stressful. I still feel lonely a lot. I get annoyed for no reason, and am often frustrated or flustered. I still feel extremely emotional and sometimes even contradict myself. I’m often confused as to why and what God is doing. I was reminded of a quote today: “Loneliness is breeding grounds for Intimacy with God.” Not sure who it’s by- but it is something I cling to. I know He is drawing me close; and no matter what that looks like- I choose to come near. I choose to be brought to Him. To re-learn my worship and to grow a heart like Mary. So, I’m not there yet, but I’m following behind Him. The journey might be long but it will be good.

Thanks for listening. I’m an external processor and this is the first time I have really gotten all this out. Even as I write, Steffany’s new song Oxygen is playing, and I feel God smiling over me. Please do yourself a favor and check out all of these amazing artists’ brilliant work! Just remember it isn’t about the songs but about the creator of the worship. Be blessed.

 

How He Loves

Hebrews 12:10- “…but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.”

Wow guys. Have you ever just looked back over your week or weekend and been utterly amazed at just how much happened and how many ways God revealed Himself to you? Well this weekend was one that I may not ever forget. I had more God moments and revelations in these past 4 days than the last few weeks combined. To put it differently- there are just some things about the Lord that you just can’t learn in school. No matter how much you study, read, pray, listen, sing, dance, or get imparted over- there are some aspects of God’s character, and some parts of yourself, that you will only learn through doing life with Him.

Thursday is where it all started. We had a speaker come in this week and share many stories of what she has walked through with Jesus and her main theme throughout her time in ministry was that “God disciplines those He loves.” (Proverbs 3:12) Of course we all have heard and probably experienced this to some degree; and I have many personal examples of times where The Lord really convicted me to show me more of His Holiness through my own weakness. It always reminds me how much I truly need His Grace, and how my works alone will never be enough- even with the best of intentions. But on our outreach day last Thursday, these words weren’t hanging in the forefront of my mind as we piled into the van to go into Lancaster City. Our task of the day was to be stranded in the city: No phone, No wallet, No money, and No car- with the objective of getting home, and doing ministry along the way. When we first found out we would be doing this; many nervous laughs came forth from the group, and most of the class was very uneasy. But I was super excited! The thought of being stranded in the city and finding a kind stranger to drive me home while praying over those we encountered on the streets filled me with expectation and adrenaline Never had I done anything like this; but I was so excited to see God move in completely new ways. Little did I know that the move of God I was waiting for was actually a difficult reminder of His sovereignty.

Now the story of all that happened that day is VERY long, so I will do my best to keep it condensed. (If you’d like to hear more details about it feel free to contact me) All of us students split into groups of between 3 and 4 to go out on the streets looking and praying about who to talk with in order to make our way home. My group (Aba, Jake, Eileen and myself) decided that before we did anything, we would sit down and ask the Lord for clues as to who we should talk to- so that we weren’t distracted along the way. This is called “Treasure Hunting”. You make a list of clothing, places, people, names, or sicknesses that you believe God is telling you to look for; and then you go out in faith finding these people (treasures) to bring them encounters with God through healing, prophesy, sharing the gospel or just encouraging them. After only a few minutes we had a very solid list, and each of us was confident that these were the people God would have us encounter and ultimately get us home. The list ranged from things like white hat, yellow jacket, black shirt, to the name Jackie, and even ages like 12 years. We also had a couple of injuries listed knee pain and back pain. Finally, Eileen wrote down blue van big enough to take 4 people to Ephrata. It was more of a joke but we knew it could easily be the tool God chose to use for us. So after prayer, we confidently headed out, knowing that God was going to get us home and do some miracles along the way. We had several short encounters with people along the streets; but nobody we found seemed to match any of our descriptions or have any leads on a way home. We had some really good conversations with local shop owners and Jake even found a friend of his in a coffee shop along the street- but we still had no idea of what we would do to get home. None of our treasures had been found and nobody had any help for us. By this time, we were starting to get frustrated and annoyed. Our nerves were fraying and since it was raining all day; we were cold, wet, and grumpy. We asked God to provide us a way home by 12, in faith, and when 12:15 rolled around and we found ourselves still in the streets- our confidence and hope was severely lacking. One man had begun talking to us and we got excited because he said he was a Christian but he had cerebral palsy and we were eager to pray over him. However, we ended up in deep discussion and when we tried to pray before leaving, he kept trying to change the subject and was more interested in discussing theology. Because we were short on time and he seemed very resistant, we just blessed him and left; another discouraging encounter. By this point, we were desperate for anything that would bring us back, and every car that was even remotely blue or could pass as a van we began to approach, hoping to find the owner. But even these efforts were fruitless. Finally, Eileen remembered the mission organization we had helped out with during ministry a few weeks prior- called Water Street Rescue Mission; and we decided to walk there to see if any of the pastors could help us out. Because none of us had phones or knew the orientation of the city; we stopped at several city maps in order to get our bearings and started to head in the direction of what we thought was the mission organization. After about 8 blocks we asked for help and realized we had miscalculated, and had another 6 or 7 blocks to go. We were so discouraged and wet and crabby at this point- it was hard to stay positive. After nearly an hour of trudging through the weather, we found our beacon of hope. But the director (pastor Booth) was out when we arrived; and none of the other workers or volunteers had a way to help us. He was told to be returning at 3:30, so we left our information and told them we would come back when he arrived. They sent us up the street to the hospital to look for more help there, and when we went they sent over a call from the pastor saying that he knew of another place as well that could probably help us until he returned. Since it was only half a block from where we were, and he wouldn’t be back for another 2 hours; we decided to give it a shot. The church we were directed to was called the Lord’s House of Prayer. It was very large and beautiful. The lady in the office was so sweet- and after explaining our situation, she seemed eager to do all she could to help us. Because her car was too small for 5 people, she went to make some calls and talk to a few others she thought could help. But after some voicemails and a few “sorry, wish we could help” responses; we were faced once again with the reality that we were stranded. Since we knew pastor Booth would be back at 3 to give us a ride, we asked if we could at least sit indoors for a few minutes to rest and warm up from the ugly weather outside. And she was more than willing to help us- she opened a room with couches and heating and we gladly accepted. Exhausted, hungry, sore, and discouraged at the seeming unfruitful day; we sat down in silence. Jake decided that we should pray and worship God; and even though the others agreed, I was in shock. I didn’t want to. What did I have to praise Him for? Couldn’t God have led us home? Couldn’t He have allowed us to see His power in healings and encounters with those on our treasure map? Couldn’t He have made the weather nicer or made our trip shorter? I had only God to blame for all the disasters of the day- after all, the whole reason we were doing this in the first place was to stretch our faith and see Him move through our lives and others. And we hadn’t seen any of this. But, despite our circumstances, we prayed. We worshipped. Jake found some good psalms and we read them. After a while, I found myself praying for a new perspective on the situation; and thanking God for being with us despite our emotions and feelings. We repented for our lack of trust and for all of our doubts. For grumbling like the Israelites did in the wilderness, and for feeling so entitled that God should save us based on our works. Around this time, Jake felt like the Lord had called us to this church for a reason, and even though it wasn’t our way home- He believed we were supposed to do something here. Soon after, the lady who had spoken with us earlier walked into the room. She began to tell us about her life and her marriage and her adopted son. She said she didn’t know why, but she felt like she was supposed to ask us to pray over her and her husband. We were more than eager to believe and pray with her (leaving out the specific details of this prayer for privacy reasons). Near the end I even received a prophetic word for their son, and she seemed so encouraged when it was shared. We suddenly were all filled with so much faith and so much hope. Even through all that had happened; God had ordained this appointment for us. After the prayer, we decided to head back to the mission center and wait for pastor Booth to give us a ride home. The walk was short; and we were now excited about the encounter we had with this woman that the Lord had so clearly placed in our path. Even though she couldn’t help us, we helped her- which was even more satisfying than finding a ride home. So when we got back to Water Street, we were able to interact with many of the homeless residents that live at the center, and we had a good time just talking and laughing with them while the pastor got ready to drive us. As soon as he came in with the keys- we got up and headed outside to his parked car. As we walked around the building, what does he have parked outside waiting for us but a BLUE VAN. All 4 of us stopped in our tracks. We looked at each other with wide eyes and couldn’t help but to laugh. All this time, God had ordained this blue van to take us home. He knew it all along- when we wrote our list at 9:30, He had it waiting all day until 3:30 when we would be going home. It was definitely a surprise to say the least.

I got home and after a quick lunch, went straight to bed to lay down. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. There was so much to process. God had taught me so much over the course of the day- and I was actually so convicted by how spoiled I was. How entitled. How I grumbled and whined when I had to experience a day of poverty and homelessness- but there are people who live like that constantly and are able to rejoice and praise the Lord more than I could. How I got angry when God didn’t show up in the way or the time that I wanted to; when He doesn’t have to put Himself in my box; He is far greater than that. How I say that I will trust God in anything, and how I say I am fully dependent on Him; but the truth is that I only trust God when I can be independent. I trust Him with my future, but not with my present. I can give Him my life, as long as I’m capable of meeting my own needs and can depend on myself for my personal comfort. I was so convicted by my lack of faith, my lack of trust, and my eagerness to complain when things didn’t go as expected. Or as I wanted them to. Convicted by how fast I was to neglect His will over my own personal pleasure. This really hit me hard; it kind of wrecked me. I was reminded again of the speaker who said, “God disciplines those He loves.” and realized that although I felt as though I was being punished, in reality God was showing me His true love for me. It took me almost 2 days to process all this- and I still haven’t fully sorted through it all. But God just kept showing me that this really was for my good. That He loved me. He was teaching me. He was growing me. I wasn’t guilty for not trusting God the way I thought I did. He wanted to expose my weakness so that He could give me His strength. God was revealing my humanness to humble me and remind me of Grace. The true cost of surrender is giving up ALL independence, and I was being shown what that looked like. I wasn’t a failure. My friend Danielle put it into such a beautiful perspective for me as I unpacked all that I was feeling as a result of this. She said, “Kaylee, God wanted to show you something different that day. He was confident enough that your faith wouldn’t be shaken, that He was willing to shake you and show you that. It was to reveal to you that you’re stronger than you think you are. He can shake you and you won’t falter. And He’s going to continue to grow your faith from here.” Wow. All of this really was for my Good. I just didn’t have the right perspective to see it at the time. Often when we’re going through something we can’t understand it till we get to the other side. So I asked God to continue to give me HIS perspective for situations- not just on the other side of them, but in the middle of them.

Then, on Friday night I got called in to work and made 75 dollars. Extra cash that I wasn’t expecting to have. And Saturday morning I left for a weekend at the cabin with 20 of the greatest humans alive. I hadn’t seen them all in awhile because the only time we really see each other is on Sundays at church. At first, I didn’t know how it would be to spend 24 hours of constant togetherness with these people, because I didn’t think we were super close. But I am so thankful I went. I had the best time! We played games all night, formed tons of inside jokes, had hundreds of laughs, tailgate drives in the freezing cold at night, went on a beautiful hike, shared great food, watched movies, and just talked about life. It felt like so much longer than a weekend, and honestly, I didn’t want to come home. I could have stayed there for a week and not been the least bit upset. We worshipped together; and I was just reminded again how much God truly loves me. After He corrected and instructed me, He just took 2 whole days to lavish His love on me through the form of my now closest friends. He brought me a community and blessed it. Even Stewart (one of the guys that came) gave us a prophetic word about how this group was special; blessed by God to change the world. That together we will accomplish much, and God has brought each of us here to know each other, to know Him, and to love ourselves and others. It resonated so deep within my heart because I had been praying for community and I know this is it! These are my people and I couldn’t be more thankful. I love the ways God pours His love out on us. Even through sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag and putting on coffee face masks (the guys, too!). // I included some photos here for you // He really is bigger than we could ever imagine, and He can’t be contained. Was everything that happened on Thursday worth it? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it all over again? Not willingly. Haha. But I’m thankful that it happened to me. I’m thankful that our small group could talk about it and process together, and I’m thankful that I got to relax and enjoy the weekend afterwards. Even in the midst of my struggles and frustration and grumbling, God was blessing me.

And today (Monday) I am staying home all day to do laundry, homework, reading, and relaxing- continuing to process everything and just enjoying God. His goodness is unfathomable; I couldn’t explain it if I tried. And honestly, I don’t think He wants me to. Just to soak it in and to encourage you along the way- God’s conviction is always beautiful. Don’t let the enemy rob you of receiving the love that Jesus pours out each time He corrects and instructs us. It is for our good to bring us higher and make us more like Him. It always results in joy!

 

FamGoobsCabin

: Contains Attachments :

Psalms 7:17- “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness, I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.”

Hello again world! I have somewhat gotten back onto the lovely world of social media.. But it will probably still be very sporadic. So if you don’t necessarily hear from me on there don’t worry. You know how to contact me! This break has been nothing short of incredible and so refreshing! I’m very thankful to have spent this time away just focusing on the Lord and being intentional with those around me.

I wanted to give a quick news flash of some other things that have been happening. Every year for the past couple years, I have done this thing where I ask God for a word or theme for the year; and He tells me something just to be focusing on and stepping into throughout the months. Last year, the theme was “Joy and Fulfilled Promises”. And man, He definitely went over and beyond all expectations I had for what that would look like. 2017 was absolutely filled with seeing God’s faithfulness in my life over things He had promised to me throughout the years; and I gained an entirely greater taste of the joy of Him!! I’ve been filled to overflowing- and it hasn’t stopped!! This year, the word God gave me was “Praise”. This may sound simple, but I believe our praises to Him are indeed profound; and there is no limit to the ways the Lord can move in our lives when we choose to worship Him through ALL CIRCUMSTANCES! I know there will be difficulties and struggles, but that doesn’t make Him any less deserving of my thanks! I’m so excited to continue pressing into this and learning to praise Him in a whole new way!! I even prayed this year that the Lord would not let me go to bed any night without having thanked Him that day. Even on my worst days, Jesus is just as deserving of glory and honor. I know this is a dangerous prayer, but I want to challenge myself more in the area of thankfulness! It has been incredibly fruitful so far, and I’m eager to see all that will continue to come from this year of praising Him more!!

On that note- I wanted everyone to see my new favorite toy!! From now on, you might not catch me without a guitar strapped to my hip or a pick in my hand. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration because I don’t yet know how to play; but I just bought a left-handed mini Taylor guitar!!!! I have been wanting to learn for nearly a year now and have been saving up since I moved here! This is by far the greatest purchase I have ever made!! I can’t wait to grow more in my gift of worship. I’m starting lessons with a friend up here this week, and even though my attempts at playing currently sound like a cow trying to yodel; I keep picking it up and trying to learn chords on YouTube! It might take a while, but I am so excited to study this beautiful instrument! I’ll do my best to keep y’all updated on my journey!! Maybe next time there’s a bonfire I can lead a little acoustic worship set! I’m attaching a few pictures for everyone to see as well.

One more thing; my ministry school is going on a mission trip this summer! Every year the school does an outreach for several weeks and this year we are going to Houston, Texas!! Our main ministry focus will be working with those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Doing evangelism, prayer, and personal ministry as well as cleanup in the areas of devastation that still remain! I’m attaching my support letter with specific details here. Please read it!! The trip costs a total of $1000 and I would love for you to join me in this mission to share the love of Jesus to our family in Texas. Please pray about what you feel led to give in support of this trip, which I’m convinced will be nothing short of miraculous!! And whether you can donate financially or not- our team needs your prayers as we prepare to go. I am so so grateful for each and every one of you! You may never know what a blessing you are to me or the impact you have made in my life!

BIG LOVE TO ALL!!!!

-kaylee (:

>>> Mission Letter- Houston <<<

Prayer and Praise

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; in the city of our God, His holy mountain.” -Psalm 48:1

Wow, I hope each and every one of you had a blessed and beautiful holiday season, spent with those you love. I don’t know about anybody else, but Christmas really snuck up on me this year!! It came so fast, and when it did, I didn’t slow down again until after New Years! It was absolutely wonderful though; and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I spent precious time with family, got some much-needed rest, and made tons of memories in this new place I call home. I also got to support one of my greatest friends in her wedding down in Florida! The whole day was magical; I’m honored I got to be there, and I had a blast!!

For new news, HAPPY 2018!! This year is off to a running start already, and so much has happened. For starters, our class began the year of school by going into a 21-day fast together. We got to choose what each of us was going to be fasting for the month, and along with giving up all social media; a majority of us actually decided to do a partial or complete Daniel fast. To those of you who are unfamiliar with this, it is a fast based out of the story of Daniel and his men in the Bible- when they were prisoners of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. They didn’t want to eat the king’s food, but instead asked that they would be given only vegetables and water in order to stay holy before their God. (This story can be found in Daniel chapter 1) After this, and because of their obedience, the Lord blessed Daniel and his friends with “knowledge and understanding of all kinds… and Daniel could understand visions and dreams.” (v. 17) I would love to have greater anointing like this in my life- who wouldn’t!? Most Daniel fasts today include all vegetables, all fruits, and also many grains that grow straight from the ground and are unprocessed. So for 3 weeks, we’re eating nothing but salads, smoothies, and a little bit of rice. Haha, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still. This is my first time doing a full Daniel fast, and it definitely hasn’t been easy. Not only have do I have to do extra cooking, but I also have to go shopping more often and spend way more money. And when we aren’t home, finding places to accommodate for a worse-than-vegan diet are no easy task, either. But, we are now one week in and I am confident that dying to my flesh in this way is going to be extremely effective for this year- and beyond. The start of the second week hasn’t been much better: I’m starting to lose an appetite for vegetables and today ended up being almost a complete fast because I just couldn’t find anything that looked good enough to eat. I think my stomach is shrinking and I may be losing weight… It’s a struggle. But that’s how I know this is effective. It reminds me to pray and worship and seek the Lord in a way I wouldn’t normally do; and that’s the important part.

Last Thursday, I actually hosted a dinner at our house for any of the students to come to; and everyone brought Daniel-approved dishes that we ate together. Surprisingly, we had a lot of fun and even got full! (Praise the Lamb) With so many options and different foods, it made fasting so much easier- and with everyone supporting each other, we were reminded why we are doing this and could encourage each other through it. One guy made tofu but in an Asian rice dish with teriyaki sauce and vegetables that actually tasted good! Another girl brought chocolate granola (coco powder and honey) that satisfied the sweet craving we all had. And I made some homemade guacamole that went perfectly in a quinoa veggie bowl. Community really does make everything better, and that’s what we’re made for!

Through this I have really been praying into some things, and I’m going to share some of them with you so that you can intercede for me as well! Mainly, I’m asking God to provide housing up here. As some of you know, me and Leigh Anne are actually planning on staying in Pennsylvania for awhile! Right now we live with our grandparents which has been such a blessing, but soon we will be done with school and are hoping to have our own place! We are praying for something in a good area at an affordable price. A few options have come up and I’m just continuing to seek the Lord in finding which one would be best for us. Also for continued guidance in what I should do after this year of school. I know God has called me to several things in the future and I want to start preparing now for all that He has planned. This week, He has even laid other people on my heart to pray over; friends and family that have sickness, depression, struggles, anxiety, and financial pain that I believe God is really wanting to touch. I’m so excited to see breakthrough not just in my own life but in others as well!!!

Another exciting opportunity arose last Saturday when I got the chance to go with Gateway, our prayer house, down to Washington D.C. We took a team to run a set in David’s Tent for the day! This is a 24/7 prayer house located in the National Mall. About 20 of us all went together with a common goal: to worship Jesus and bring honor to His name. We were in charge of the tent for the whole time we were there; so from 10 am to 6 pm, we ran the set. We had several worship leaders in our group that had a few songs planned, and the rest of us were going for support and general tent maintenance. As soon as we got there- this guy named Scott was about to play his set, and I had just casually mentioned that if anyone needed an extra vocalist I could jump on wherever. Well, Scott said that he actually did need someone, because all he had was his acoustic guitar and a drummer. So, I ended up hopping onto a 3-hour worship set with this guy I had just met. No practices, no warm-up, and no set list in mind. And let me tell you, that was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had in worship. We just went from song to song, flowing in spontaneous worship and choruses of praise. So many times I just laughed from the platform; because the joy of the Lord was so evident in the band and all throughout the room. After a while, I got to lead a couple songs as well, and the whole team was having so much fun worshipping with us! That whole trip was just so anointed. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. By the end- I was exhausted, cold, hungry, and without a voice, but I would do it all over again. Worshipping in a tent all day with 20-degree windy weather that chilled us to the bone; was one of the best days of my life! I’m so thankful I got to go! It hit me so hard at one point that I was sitting in our nation’s CAPITOL, with the ability to stand out in public and declare the name of God; inviting others to come in too. The freedom in this nation is truly incredible. Also, every week this year, one state takes responsibility of the tent: From Sunday at midnight to Sunday at midnight- each of the 50 states provide teams to do live worship and nonstop prayer. People are coming from all over the country to take part in this. I love this idea, and seeing the support that David’s Tent has gotten from all over the nation. I never would have even found out about this if I hadn’t moved up here; and now I got the opportunity to sing praises from the capital of our country!! I love living only 2 hours away from some of the most important cities in the nation, possibly even the world. Gosh, God works in some mysterious ways.

I am working on another blog that I will post soon with more exciting news about what we have coming up! I’m so blessed by each one of you, and love to have people following me on this journey. I can’t even believe all that has happened in my short time here! Eager to see what more is to come as God continues to work.

Daughter, Come Sit with Me

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

Most of the time I write, I intend for it to be a short blog. And we know how that works out…. I’ll do my best to keep this one more concise (:

So, last Thursday in our small groups, my friend Peter asked each of us what lies we were struggling to overcome in our lives- and how God was working to bring truth. I mentioned how I had believed the lie of rejection for much of my life and how I am really beginning to find freedom from it! But knowing the truth is different than walking in it. Even though I had a realization of who I am in Christ; I’m still learning what it looks like to live from a place of acceptance. Not just with people, but with God also. We talked about how sometimes we would do or say things just to try to gain acceptance- even though we already have it! And this also applied to my faith. Often during worship or corporate intercession I would act as if I had to sing the loudest, or pray the fastest, or give the deepest prophetic word in order to be accepted. Like I had to work my way to God’s favor. Even though I knew in my head this was completely ridiculous, I still found myself living as though I wasn’t accepted. Why? Because when you have lived a lifestyle for so long- it doesn’t change with a head decision. This was no longer something I believed about myself, but a terrible lifestyle habit I had to overcome through the grace of God.

So we prayed about this as a group; and I came into worship this week feeling the same as usual. But EVERYTHING was different. I had just come out of one of the best weekends ever.. I had a fabulous birthday and so many people just loved on me and celebrated me. It was such a blessing! And Monday morning started out just being so full. Full of love and gratefulness to God for giving me such great people and memories to start this 22nd year of life! And as I entered into His presence that morning; I heard Him say to me, “I don’t want you to sing to me. I just want you to sit. I want to be with you, and enjoy you.” What? But God, I want to praise you and thank you for all the ways you blessed me this week! “But you don’t have to sing to me. You bless me just by who you are.” Guys, this hit me so hard. Here I was, subconsciously trying to be more accepted by God through offering all of my thanks and praises that I thought He wanted. Yes, He wants them. But more than that, He wants me. I’ve already been accepted. He blessed me so much because He is blessed by me. And I don’t have to earn it. I don’t have to pay Him back. It’s free. I’m accepted, I’m loved, and God just wants to lavish blessings upon me. He didn’t even need me to thank Him. He was content to sit and be with me. So that whole worship time consisted of me just sitting with God. Just being. Because I could. I didn’t have to worship my way into His love. Didn’t have to dance my way into His grace. All that the Lord wanted from me was my presence. And He brought His. And that was one of the most glorious moments. The moment when I stopped living from a place of rejection and accepted my acceptance from the Father. This is still a process, but I’m so excited to continue to walk it out.

After class, I told Peter what happened and we both laughed and shouted and celebrated. It’s such a good feeling to have people walk out your victories with you, and to cheer you on as you step further into freedom. I’m so thankful for the encouragement He (and so many others) has given me through this! It is a beautiful thing to start walking out truth after a long time of living in lies.

Then on top of all this; we had a speaker named Dave Hess come in this week to talk all about the Father’s Heart. Y’all, God is so good in the way He works. Dave’s main emphasis, at least for me, was resting in the idea that your Father loves you. And He loves you just as you are. You were accepted before you were born! And this resonated even more what I had been hearing God’s voice say to me earlier! These past 2 days (really the past week) have been key in my life! And I couldn’t be any more content than I am right now to rest in the love of the Father: fully known, fully loved, and fully ACCEPTED. Also, this is the most I have ever found myself calling God ‘Father’ and seeing myself as His ‘Daughter’. It is just incredible. I keep listening for His voice because it just keeps on affirming me.

Lastly, (yes, there’s more) today during my Gateway set I was just reading the Word. I couldn’t stop breathing in every word on the pages: each verse spoke so much to me! I started in Corinthians and jumped all around, finding so much goodness everywhere I turned. The last thing I read in Psalms sums up all that has been spoken over me this week as a daughter of Christ. It is from chapter 45, verses 10-15. This is my paraphrase. Please look it up and read the whole thing as well. But this is how God refers to us- Specifically His Daughters.

 

“Daughter, the King is enthralled by your beauty.

All glorious is the Princess, her gown is interwoven with Gold.

She is led to the King; with Joy and Gladness she enters the palace.”

 

As Daughters, we are so accepted by our Heavenly Father, the King. It’s nothing about what we do, and it’s all about who we are. Mainly, who He made us to be. Let’s start living like Royalty, shall we?

Also, tomorrow I get on a plane to go to FLORIDA for one of my best friend’s weddings!! Pictures to follow- I am so excited to love on her and celebrate this beautiful moment by her side! Life is full of adventures, and I take each one as they come.

You Could Be This Good

Psalm 23:6- “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

You know those moments when God just reminds you of something you said to Him awhile back? Or better yet, the times when He reminds you of something He said to you in the not too distant past?

Yeah. Well both of those things happened to me this week. Here’s the first story.

Remember the first blog I posted when I moved here? (If you haven’t read it; you can go back- it’s called Have It All.) Yeah, me too. Remember how I said that I told the Lord He could have it all? And that I was surrendering everything in my life to Him? Haha. Yeah. I had forgotten about that. I forgot about how I had given my whole world to God- knowing I could trust Him with EVERYTHING in my life, because He had proven Himself faithful and good. Well, He reminded me of that this week. I had been starting to doubt His goodness simply because it didn’t FEEL good at the time, and because I didn’t understand what He was doing. Isn’t it crazy how we can forget God’s goodness to us when we enter the trying times?

I had told God that He could have it all; everything in my life- yet I became angry and upset when my life began to look different as God started to take things away. As He changed things. As He changed me. As He brought me closer to His will. Why had I become angry that my life didn’t look the same anymore? If we ask for God to perfect us; we can’t expect Him to keep our lives the same!! And if we give Him permission to come and move and change, we can’t pray that He won’t.

Last week I was so discouraged because my life didn’t look the same as it did when I first left home. I loved the life I had, and I didn’t want anything to change. But as God continued to draw me closer to Him in this season; that also included pulling me further away from some things. Good things. But things that He needed to change in order to bring me forward on the path He has destined for my life. I was so hurt. So upset. Why did things have to look different? Why did I have to be so far from the people and the places that I loved? And the Lord said; “Do you remember when you told me to Have It All?  That’s what I’m doing. You gave me permission to work in your life- Trust that I’ll bring it all together for your good.”

How had I forgotten what I asked God to do in me this year? Why is it that as soon as things got hard, I wanted to take back my request for the Lord to work in my life? Giving your life away to an unknown outcome is never going to be easy. Why had I expected it to be? When we give God permission to take everything, we have to understand that it won’t be a pain-free journey to our destiny. God’s work is often a lot less like pulling out a small splinter, and a lot more like cleaning out a deep wound. It is painful and long. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be completely restored in the end. In fact, often the final outcome is SO MUCH BETTER than the original situation ever was. The hard part is just getting there.

When God reminded me of this; I was both embarrassed and relieved. Embarrassed because I was questioning His goodness to me when He had been working all along. And relieved because I knew that even if the enemy had been behind anything that was going on; God had control of every part of my life- so I didn’t have to worry about it! This was one of the greatest reminders God had given me. That even when my life looked like it was falling apart and out of control; it was part of the Lord’s plan all along. He was just waiting for me to give Him permission to act in it!!

The other encouraging reminder God showed me this week was something He promised to me this summer before I moved. He told me that “What I am walking into will be far greater than what I leave behind.” And that there would be moments here that would be so beautiful and complete and joyful- that I would truly know that there is nowhere else I would rather be than exactly where He has placed me. And Friday night I had one of those defining moments.

We had been serving all week at the HarvestNET International Summit; a gathering for pastors and leaders from all over the country that are a part of our network of churches here! It was an INCREDIBLE time. Serving was both humbling and completely satisfying. It was such a blessing and an honor to be able to help alongside such great people, leaders, and speakers. On the second day of the conference I got a prophetic word and prayer from one of Randy Clark’s leaders- named William Wood, that spoke right to my heart. And I just sat on the floor and cried while it ministered to my soul. It was so incredible and so timely, just an encouragement. Then on the final night; we were part of the ministry team that got to lay hands and pray over people during the altar call at the end of the service. It had been a LONG week. We were TIRED. And as full as I was, I was ready to go home. I had a great time of ministry and was just feeling so satisfied with all that the Lord had done in each person at the conference. Just as the final worship song was coming to a close, everyone was beginning to leave, and we were wrapping up a great week; me and two of my classmates, Danicka and Wendy, all sat down to just soak in some more worship and the Lord’s presence. Through a series of small events (that’s a story in itself) the power of the Lord hit all 3 of us so forcefully- we nearly fell off our chairs! And when we came back up, we looked at each other and immediately entered into a roar of laughter! We had been touched by the Spirit, and each of us had received a heavy dosage of His JOY!! From there we had other students and teachers come up and pray over us, speaking words over us and asking the Lord for more and more. We laughed till our abs hurt and our heads were about to explode. I thought that I was going to pass out at one point; and I remember yelling “Yes, Lord!” at the same time that my soul was crying for Him to stop, because I couldn’t handle anymore. Yet, I loved it.  Not only did we each encounter the goodness of God so deeply, but we also grew closer to each other through the bonding of our spirits in Holy Laughter. I can’t remember everything- and I’m sure there was a LOT that happened; but I know we were probably on the ground for at least 30 minutes, and it took another half an hour for me to be sober enough to stand up and begin to walk around. My hands were numb and tingly for another 20 minutes following, and every person that I touched or got close to began to catch waves of laughter as well.  The Spirit was SO TANGIBLE and SO STRONG, no one could fight it. And we didn’t want to. Combined with our physical exhaustion and our hunger for the Lord, everything that happened was magnified on a large scale. And it was nothing short of miraculous. Completely incredible. A moment I will never forget.

It was in that moment; drunk in the Lord and just so overwhelmed I could hardly stand- it was then that the Lord reminded me of HIS promise. “You will be so full of joy and absolute satisfaction, there is nowhere else you would rather be.” And that couldn’t have been more true. There is nowhere else in the world I would have rather been this week. And no one else I would have rather been with. And nothing else I would have rather done than just to have been with the Lord. I wouldn’t trade that night or those memories or those people for the world; and the Lord was so good to me in that. He has been so faithful to fulfill His promises to me, and I am deeply grateful. This week itself was proof of just how dang good God is. And how we can’t even begin to understand it.

Another blessing that God gave me is a special connection here. I ran into my second cousin at a church the other week; and I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years! We were able to get breakfast together a couple days ago. It was so so good!!! God-given conversations, timely words and encouragement, and the blessing of being in almost the exact same stage of life; we could relate to each other so deeply. We also have been keeping in touch through prayer and encouragement about how God is working in each of us. It was just an unexpected surprise and such a perfect Godsend for each of us.

Guys, WOW!!! Ugh. I have never shed more tears or had more laughter than I had this week; and I wouldn’t want it any other way. God’s doing some DEEP DEEP healing in me, and no matter how painful or stretching it is I couldn’t be more excited about it.

This reminds me of a song by Kristene DiMarco from Bethel: Could You Be This Good? (Please do yourself a favor and check out her album!!!) Yes, the answer is yes. I have found myself asking God so many times lately- How could He be this good to me? Is it really true? And yes. Yes it is. Praise the Lord for His ultimate sovereignty and complete goodness.

 

I love the perfection in Your presence
The redemption on Your face
Your heart’s forever for me
Even if I look away
You still call my name
You call my name

Could You be this good?
Could You be this good?
The way that You forgive me
The way that You hold on to me
Could You be, could You be this good?