Friday, May 15, 2015

two years to forever...

This week, my Small Group ended.
This week, I have no words and all the emotions.
Monday night was filled with poolside prayers, laughter, tears, selfies, Del Taco Fiesta Packs, and homemade fried ice cream.  And I cried myself all the way home because God’s love and joy and mercy are so evident in this group.

Two years ago, this group came from the Children’s Ministry on the opposite side of the church, into our ministry, and straight into my heart. This group of girls became my group of girls, and the fact that God allowed me to walk with them for two whole years? I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW. I do not question that God completely orchestrated these relationships, because it has been just about too much for me to handle (in every good way imaginable). Two summers, two springs, two falls, two winters. I have seen them through pains and heartaches and joys and laughter; we’ve been the group who has literally mourned and danced together. I am thankful, my heart is joyful, and my cup is overflowing by the gallons.

Teaching these sweet girls has been the best, but being taught by them has been as equally life giving. These girls have taught me so much about what it means to love unconditionally and to know a mothers heart, because let me tell you what, I did not birth these girls, but my love for them is just as fierce as if I did. If any of these girls become orphans, I am adopting them in a HOT HEARTBEAT. No questions asked, you may as well file the paperwork right now just in case, you know, for safe keeping. They have taught me to stay young and to laugh and to wear green tutus and to live fearlessly. They have taught me to exhibit grace and to go with the flow and that Oreos should be incorporated into 85% of your weekly meals. They have taught me what it means to be “on fleek” and all the other cultural shifts and references that are happening amongst the youths of today. They teach me as I teach them and I love how discipleship is cyclical and benefiting to everyone involved (maybe not the Oreo part…).

Monday night we ended our year, celebrating soccer championships and dance performances, new seasons and transitions and new jobs for their parents, sleepovers and snowball fights and awkward conversations about sex; we celebrated TWO WHOLE GIRLS giving their lives to Jesus. And people, if that isn’t the icing on top of an already sweet two years, I don’t know what is!

I am so dang excited for these girls as they start their new adventure in high school! And like I tell these sweet girls, through many tears, we go to the same church and we will always be each other’s people. This is how they learn that community is built across ministries and across rooms; this is how they learn the meaning of the church itself.

But as they grow up, I have so many hopes and prayers and wants for these girls.
I pray that Monday nights remind them of Oreos and Jesus and Tijuana and dance parties and Alex From Target; that they look back at the memories and laugh until they cry.

I pray that their friendships with each other are knit together in the Lord and that they continue to love and serve and encourage and pray for each other with each passing year. I want them to know that we are forever each other’s people.

I pray that they remember that even adults don’t have it all together and that following Jesus will be hard no matter what age you are. To decide to live as a God-fearing girl is no easy choice, but I pray that they wake up every day with the resolve to live in such a way. It is hard, but it is so worth it.

I pray that they continue to pray for my future husband and that when I introduce them to him, they love him and tell him all the silly stories of our Small Group and our jokes and their prayers. And when children come? I pray that these girls love them and cherish them and buy them all the headbands and bows and maybe one day lead them in a Small Group of their own.

I pray that they go into high school (and all of life’s seasons) with all the confidence because God is right there alongside them. He knows what is ahead and He goes before them and hems them in from behind.

I pray that they seek first the kingdom, that in all they do, they will look for the Jesus in it. I pray that they know God’s Word and they pray and they worship with all they have. I pray that one day they do become youth leaders and have a group of girls just like this that they teach and mentor, that they will know the feeling that I have RIGHT NOW.

I pray that they will always laugh with each other and protect each other and worship with each other. I pray that they come alongside each other in both the joys and the trials.

I pray that they learn their gifting’s and serve God with all of their hearts, with all of their capacity, in any season that they find themselves in.

I pray that we never stop celebrating life together; I pray that my fridge is full of graduation invitations, “Save The Dates”, wedding invitations, prayer cards, and Kodak moments from the previous years of us. I pray we still have sleepovers and snowball fights and dance parties to Taylor Swift. I pray that they know how loved they truly are.
Sitting here, writing these words, I am just so thankful, thankful and overjoyed. I am like a broken record in the best possible way. JUST LOOK AT THEM. They have the sweetest smiles and the biggest hearts and the cutest laughs. Two whole years... Praises! 

And this is why I do ministry, this is why I love these girls, because God moves so mightily in the laughter and the crying and the learning. God moves. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

all the things: april...

April was a very fun, interesting month. I felt like April gave me a some time to breathe before the craziness of May and before we launch into the summer months.

Here are all the things of April!

Joanna Gaines’ Testimony: If you have a free four minutes, you need to watch this. I love her show “Fixer Upper” and love how her and her husband are so real and goofy! She talks about her Korean/American heritage and how the deep-rooted lie of being “enough” was sown into her at an early age. Watch HERE

Easter: I have said it once, and I will say it again and again… I LOVE MY CHURCH. It is so much more than the place I work, the building I walk into every Sunday morning; that place is a home for me. The community I have there, I just can’t begin to tell you. Easter was such a fun, beautiful time in our community.

Old Navy Jeans: I live in these. Literally, they are so comfy and beyond perfect for the summer heat that we are beginning to experience. Go grab yourself a pair and thank me later. Order online HERE

Netflix: This past month I finished the first seasons of Bloodline and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and began re-binge watching Friday Night Lights and One Tree Hill. I usually watch my new shows after dinner, curled up in my bed right before I go to sleep and my binge shows are on when I clean, cook, etc. I have loved having extra time to invest in new shows… It’s the simple things in life that being the most pleasure!

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs: PICK THIS UP NOW. Annie Downs speaks my language and I am very confident that if we lived in the same town we would be the best of friends. She writes in coffee shops, so every chapter feels like you are literally sitting at a quaint coffee shop in Nashville, drinking lattes and discussing life. And, if you don’t have time to go grab her book, hop on over to her blog HERE.

When Dreams Don’t Come True, And Even When They Do: This is perfect. Please read this blog post and be encouraged. So good, like Jimmy Fallon so good. Read HERE.

On Narrowing by Shauna Niequist: This post is simply brilliant. I am not in the same life season as Shauna, but her words speak such truth into the deep places of my soul. As we grow older, we do discover what is important to us, we weed out the unnecessary and narrow down to the things we unashamedly want in our lives. Learning to narrow now is something worth pursuing. Read HERE.

Guest Blogging: This past month I was over at my friend’s blog, Familiar Friend, writing on stillness and what it means to try harder. Hop on over to that post HERE.

What are some things that you enjoyed this past month?

Monday, April 27, 2015

burnt bacon...

Monday mornings are my Sabbath.

Working in a church, Sunday is not typically a day of rest; it’s full of church services, mission’s trainings, lunch dates, coffee dates, and office work. So yeah, Sundays are full, filling days, but they are not restful days.

I woke up this morning and hustled my way into the kitchen, preparing coffee and avocado toast and bacon (a heavenly trifecta). The bacon was on the burner and I turned around for literally maybe 30 seconds, and by that time, THE BACON WAS BURNT. Excuse me; what kind of bacon burns within the time it takes to pour a cup of coffee? Apparently the kind that I buy… I was frustrated. It was barely 8:30AM and I already wanted to throw in the towel. My morning, my restful, Sabbath, Jesus-filled morning was already off to clearly a great start.

My devotion this morning reminded me of something that my heart was in desperate need of hearing. It reminded me of the grace and strength that is found in weakness.

“Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our LORD was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst…”

– 1 Timothy 1: 13-15

So I sat there, with the coffee and the burnt bacon, and I thought about how my frustration wasn’t over the bacon itself, but about what the bacon represented. It was kind of like the straw that broke the camels back, if you will. The burnt bacon was a loud shout into my heart saying, “YOU AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH.” Now, my bacon doesn’t really talk to me, but bear with me… It was a resonating reminder of the lie that had been haunting me all week, that I am not strong enough and that I am not real enough and that I am not fill-in-the-blank enough. (Not to mention we studied Proverbs 31 in church this weekend, so there you go.)

Kaitlin Wernet over at She Reads Truth said, “I want to avoid dwelling on my faults, so I immediately justify them with my strengths.” Friends, our greatest strength is that we sin; there is no way that our strengths justify our weaknesses because even our strengths can be weaknesses. It is only in Christ, only in His grace, that our weaknesses are justified. My jealousy, my lust, my sinful nature cannot be compensated or justified by any skill set I have acquired; ONLY CHRIST, only Christ. Our weakness is incapable of being greater than His strength and His grace.

My jealousy, my lust, my sinful nature cannot be
compensated or justified by any
skill set I have acquired...

And here is the kicker… I AM A REAL PERSON. I sin, I fall short, I have areas in my life that I need to grow in. I am not perfect and in a sense, I really am not “enough”, and I am not supposed to be. Christ is enough, only Christ is enough. His grace is more abundant in the moments where our jealousy takes hold, where we get angry with our friends and family, where our lust becomes action, where our weaknesses are highlighted. His grace covers our sin and strife and our burnt bacon.

You are enough because Christ is enough, you are strong because His strength is made whole in your weakness, and you are pardoned because of the grace He lavishes. I have no idea what season of life you are in today; maybe a newlywed, maybe a new mom, maybe a singlet trying to figure our life, maybe recovering from a loss, maybe overjoyed by a new adventure coming your way. No matter what season you are in, His grace is more abundant. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

the familiar friend & a guest post...

Happy Monday to all you lovely people!

Today, I am over at my friend Courtney's blog, Familiar Friend, sharing about stillness and fear and how trying harder is not necessarily running faster. 

Grab a cup of coffee and head over to the post HERE

Thursday, April 16, 2015

a coffee date...

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have started something BIG. I can’t really tell you what it is, but just know that it is big and good and life giving, a deep-rooted, God-sized dream that has been in my heart for a long time.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about what we have been reading lately. I have picked up “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie Downs (#kindreds) and it is SO GOOD. Like, Jimmy Fallon so good. It has brought me to tears from laughing and also from the ugly cry. If you don’t have this, pick it up now! I also snagged Melanie Shankle’s newest book “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” and can’t wait to start it! What are you reading this month?

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about how I finally signed up for Netflix (welcome to the 21st century, Kristi, I know) and how I found my new guilty pleasure: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. It is hilarious and mildly inappropriate and just perfect. Also, I am binge watching “Friday Night Lights” and “Gilmore Girls”. Send help. Or popcorn and Junior Mints.

If we were on a coffee date, we would talk about singleness because that has been the thing I have been wrestling through lately. Not in a struggling way, but in a way that is good and healthy and full of learning. And because of that, this past week has really been a doozy; I have experienced full-range of emotion and completely confess that I have been “that girl” to a lot of my friends. Gosh, I am so thankful that they like me in the midst of those moments!

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that I have switched all my emojis to the African-American version because it is the best thing.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you if you have any big summer plans and vacations. We would also talk about how crazy it is that summer is literally around the corner.

If we were on a coffee date, we would probably be at a Starbucks and if we are already talking about summer… Did you know they are releasing a S’mores Frappucino? I don’t drink the Frappucinos, but this one might get me…

If we were on a coffee date, what would you want to talk about?