quiet hours

On Wednesday afternoons I volunteer at a pregnancy center doing counseling and other odds and ends as needed. The director of the center is a wonderful woman whose husband was diagnosed last year with a very serious tumor in his brain. During the last year, he has declined pretty badly and everyone who volunteers there has prayed with her and for her a lot. He has been on hospice for a few weeks now and her prayer was that he would be at peace and that the Lord would take him quickly because he was so uncomfortable and couldn’t swallow, wasn’t ambulatory, and could not speak anymore.

Yesterday I woke up about five o’clock and went to the bathroom. When I got back in bed, I just felt this gentle need to pray for our director and her husband. It wasn’t like a loud voice or anything, but I just felt the need to pray specifically for them. So I did — that God would be just comfort them both as the end drew near and that He would come and take the husband quickly and without pain. I fell asleep praying for them.

I went into to the center for my shift yesterday and was prepping some stuff for a big meeting we are having tonight with our center volunteers. When I came in, my friend Megan was there, too, and we were talking about tonight’s event. One of them said something along the lines of, “Obviously M won’t be there tonight since her husband passed away this morning.” I felt goosebumps rising on my arm and I told them about how I felt the need to pray for them at five that morning.

The receptionist’s mouth turned into a huge O. She looked totally shocked and then she said, “He passed away at 5:45.”

I am honestly tearing up as I write this. I’ve heard of people feeling God calling them to pray for a certain person at a specific time, but I’ve never experienced that pull before. It blows my mind that He was putting it on my heart in those early hours yesterday to lift them up in prayer. And knowing that my prayers were heard as he was going to be with God… I can’t get over it and I am so thankful to get to be a part of God’s grander plan.

I love the way the Lord shows up in the details and the mysterious way he shows himself to us, even when we are doubting and experience disbelief. God, you are so, so good. Thank you for the reminder that you’re present in those quiet hours and moments when we need you the most and when others need you the most.

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#overcomethelie

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a free subscription to Teen People. Each month, the magazine would print the lyrics to a song that was cool and popular. My musical tastes have changed slightly as an adult, but they are more or less the same as when I was 15 years old: I loved country and Celine Dion, which meant I didn’t know a lot of those songs whose lyrics they published. I didn’t know the tunes or the artists, but what I did know was the feelings.

The words on those pages echoed within me.

In the February 1999 issue, the lyrics to the song “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind were published. Since magazines actually come out a month before their issue date (logic I still don’t understand!), I received this issue in January 1999. Which is, coincidentally, the same month I walked into a Planned Parenthood almost 12 weeks pregnant and walked out with cramps and a prescription for antibiotics and instructions to call if the bleeding was too heavy.

It wasn’t until I was in my very early 20s and the advent of music sharing that I discovered this song — and I loved it just as much upon hearing it as I did reading the lyrics on the written page. It’s a song that’s always stayed in my iTunes library, and although it isn’t something I listen to often, I put it on my phone a few weeks ago. While I was driving to Ventura on Friday, the song came on my shuffle and for the first time in a long time they lyrics really hit me, hard.

You’re the first to fight, you’re way too loud
You’re the flash of light on the burial shroud

I have always been the loud one. Every reaction and emotion I’ve ever had and felt has been loud. My walls are up, my guns are raised, I’m ready to fight. Constantly. But you know, it’s exhausting. Because what I have spent a lifetime fighting against is a world chock full of lies. A world constantly telling me that I am a failure and a terrible person. A world that pits me against other women and my friends in order to be better than them.

I AM SO TIRED OF IT ALL.

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in

I am nearly 30 years old. I have lived a live believing in and buying those lies. It doesn’t matter than I know the truth of the Rock on Whom I stand. My Jesus says I am beloved and adopted and bought with a price, that He loved me and knew me before the foundation of the world. He promises me eternity in Paradise with Him and yet I chose to accept the little this world can offer me, knowing full well the worth the world places on me is based on a lie.

Scratch that. It’s not based on a lie. It is a lie.

And he’s on the table
And he’s gone to code

I have reached a crescendo in my life. What the world tells me and what Jesus tells me — I can’t have them both. The world screams at me, loud and glaring.

You must be thin.

You can love whoever you want.

You can do whatever you want.

Straighten your hair to be pretty.

Fix your teeth while you’re at it.

Wear makeup. Lots of it. Every day. Otherwise you’re ugly.

Dress like a model.

Disregard modesty.

Have sex, even if you’re not married. With anyone. Embrace your inner goddess!

Ignore the consequences.

It’s your body. You can do with it whatever you want.

A baby isn’t a life, it’s just a mass of cells.

Christians are mean and narrow-minded.

Hoard your riches. Build your castles here.

You are the only one who matters.

And I do not think anyone knows
What they are doing here

And there’s also Jesus, not being loud and tacky and flashy with the lights and the sirens and ALL THE THINGS.

His message is easy. It’s not twisted. It’s not difficult. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

There’s no glitter and glitz to that, but you know what? After these exhausting years, with the effort of trying too hard for too long, I’ve realized that the glitter and glitz is necessary to cover the lie. The world screams so loudly at us because it is trying to hide the fact that all of it is based on a lie that we are the most important people in the world. I bought that lie, hook, line, and sinker. I believed my only choice was to have an abortion. I believed that I would be okay with it. I believed that it was the best thing I could do. I believed it wouldn’t hurt me later on. And all of those things I believed? They were straight up lies.

And your friends have left you
You’ve been dismissed

I’m not saying my past and my pain doesn’t matter. It does. But it doesn’t matter in the way the world wants me to understand. The world pushes its way on me and says, “You’re a victim. You deserve to be angry. You have spent a lifetime fighting to matter, so make yourself the center of your world.” But is that the truth?

No, friends. It’s not.

My story doesn’t end because I’ve bought into the lie. The pain would just continue if I let myself wallow in it. But my story also doesn’t end if I live in the Truth.

It doesn’t end, but even better… it starts again. This time with a different purpose.

I never thought it would come to this
And I, I want you to know

Every day, I am making a conscious decision to live out my past. I remember it every day. Even if I don’t feel the pain, or I feel it differently, I still choose to remember the emotions of what I felt. But I’m not the center of my universe, or any universe, anymore. I live out my past because it’s become my ministry. I stand firm on the promise that God will use it for good (Romans 8:28), to bring others to Him. He did not create the lie that I chose to believe, but He let me live in the world, as much as it hurt Him to see me walk away, because He loves me enough give me the freedom to choose.

I haven’t always chosen right, but today I choose to overcome the lie.

Everyone’s got to face down the demons
Maybe today’s the day
To put the past away

If you are believing in the lies of the past, you have the promise of tomorrow to stand upon. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I once read in a commentary that this passage doesn’t mean that we build our new lives upon the foundation of our old lives. No, it means that once we are in Christ, it is as though the old never happened. Everything from the past is gone. We are new in Him.

I don’t know about you guys, but there are times where I’ll say or do something to a friend that I regret immediately, and I think, “I wish I could just erase what I just said.” Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to erase any hurt caused by words or deeds, and so you have to fix what you broke. But the amazing thing with God is that as soon as you give your life to Him, He chooses to forget. It’s over, it’s done.

You are a new creation.

You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in

Today is the day to put the past away.

All along

My home group meets on Thursday nights. We shook it up last week and shared our testimonies. I could have talked for two hours straight and not told my entire story, but I condensed mine into a tenish minute tale. The whole time, I kept talking about moving and being abandoned and all of the junk that I went through and I could feel myself getting so hot and flushed.

But He was there.

I started with growing up in a relatively non-Christian home and how we went to church very rarely, usually only on Christmas Eve at random churches.

He was there.

And then we lived with some really awesome people who gave me my first Bible. We lived in their mobile home outside of their house and it was cramped and not fun, but I have these vivid memories of reading the Bible out loud one day when my belly was aching from hunger.

And He was there.

It was around this time that I started going to youth group at the church where the owners of the mobile home went. I didn’t go very long, maybe a year at most, but in the midst of my crazy life, I could count on that couple’s oldest daughter to pick me up from the motel where I lived and take me home when it was over on Friday nights. I had two hours of escape each week.

He was there.

And years later, I had moved on to an unhealthy church and my life kind of fell apart. Like, not kind of. It did. I had a terrible boyfriend and made a lot of awful life decisions about my body and my heart and things were so dark. But even though I was at an unhealthy church, I was semi-regularly reading my Bible and spending time with an accountability leader.

He was still there.

Oh, and then we enter my last years, my wandering years. The years I wondered and hid and fought for myself and the Krista the world encouraged me to be. I was vocal and angry and at times hateful, and I lashed out at people and God and religion but through it all, I still have good Christian friends who loved me and fed me…

And oh my, He was still there.

A friend told me about this cool timeline she did years ago as this weekend therapy getaway. She plotted out all of the significant events in her life, and when she looked at the whole timeline, she said it was so, so clear that God was still in all of those events (many of which were difficult things). She saw how He protected her and kept her.

I’ve always known God has been with my in all of these details, but it’s so hard to think about sometimes. Maybe it’s because I am now with God, in a healthy church who teaches the Bible, that I can see how He has always made it so He was with me. I see the picture fully now when there’s no way I could see it fully in the midst of the pain. (Well, I actually don’t see the picture fully. Maybe I will see it that way in Heaven. For now, I can see the past more fully.) There has never been a moment in my life, aside from when I was really young, too young to remember, that I haven’t had at least one Christian who truly loved and loves God in my life.

He has been here all along.

And it gives me so much hope and encouragement as I look ahead to the unknown because I know if He was with me in all of that junk and darkness, He will be with me as I walk with Him in light and in truth.

Happy birthday to Two!

It’s hard to believe it’s been nine and seven years since I met these not-so-little people. (Yes, they’re related [in case the eyes and dimples and general sweetness didn’t give it away!], and yes, they’re two years apart, and yes, they have the same birthday!)

It’s hard to believe that these two chubsters:

kayley cole

… became these two great kiddos!

f

Happy birthday, my little Colebert Schmolebert friend. You look so cute with these missing teeth. I love that you always ask me, “Krista, why are you here?” (mostly, I think, because your mom and I always joked about how you’d ask me when you were little, “Why you here?”) and that you literally stink like a boy and that you have a hilarious giggle and wild energy. I promise you I’ll always wrestle with you on the floor of Target even if your mom doesn’t love me for it (as long as the floor isn’t crowded!). I love you, little dude!

f

I don’t have many pictures of you as a big kid, but I love you, too, Kayley girl! I love that you are so very serious and literal and that you will sometimes break into the best smile ever with the best laugh. Your high ones (like a high five, but just our pointer fingers!) always crack me up, too, and I hope we always do that, even when you’re too cool to hang out with me. I really, really love that you love to read books. I like to pretend that’s a part of me I gave to your mom to give to you. Hah. Happy birthday, buddy. I love you, too!

Friday favorites

Friday Favorites graphic

Hello friends! It’s a new week and a time for some new (and old-to-me) favorites. Share your favorites with me in the comments below, or write your own posts and share your links with me.

  • Parenthood You guys. In an attempt to fill the Lorelai (and Rory) Gilmore void in my life, I started watching Parenthood. While I keep expecting Lauren Graham/Sarah Braverman to be Lorelai, and she totally isn’t, I do love the show. I love that it’s addressing serious issues and that in each episode there is an element of family togetherness, even if it’s slightly cheesy. Why I never watched this show before, I don’t know. But I am a super fan now.
  • Freebies at Starbucks On Tuesday, I went to Starbucks before School of Ministry to get some writing done, and while I was there, they were getting rid of tall of the pastries in stock to make room for the fresh stuff. I lucked out because I got half a breakfast sandwich for free and then a little while later, I also got an entire old-fashioned donut for free, too. Bad for the waist, good for the belly and the writing fingers.
  • A change in the weather If you’d told me five years ago that I would be a hot weather hater at the close of my twenties, I would have laughed at you. But it’s true. Anything above 75 makes me want to die, and unless the humidity is in the 50 – 60% range, I also feel like dying. Well, bad news bears for Krista because it was in the low 80s with 5 – 8% humidity for almost a week. How the heck does a beach town have 8% humidity? That seems like it should be impossible! I actually shocked myself so badly on Sunday, thanks to the low humidity and crazy ridiculous winds, that my hand hurt for a good 30 minutes. Thankfully it’s now cool and misty and rainy and I am so, so happy. Bundle me up and call me happy.
  • Writing I so often feel like I have a big voice inside of me, just waiting to be unleashed to tell my story, but when it comes time to talk, my words sound like this: sjhdgiushgsjhguisgiseurhgiuehrva. Not so helpful. Thankfully, putting pen to paper (or, in this case, fingers to keyboard) helps get rid of the gibberish when I attempt to make sense of the world.
  • Babies! I just love new babies and my friend Jaimie’s baby is amazing and so cute. She was born a week ago today and is just the sweetest thing. I’ve been seen Jaimie begin many journeys in our friendship and I am so excited to watch her and her husband begin the journey of parenthood. I feel creepy posting pictures of my friend’s baby on the interwebz so here are some pictures of my and my awesome former-boss-turned-friend.
We karaoked a song whose name I cannot mention because it contains a curse word. But here's a hint: it's by Meredith Brooks.

We karaoked a song whose name I cannot mention because it contains a curse word and I kind of want to keep this blog family-friendly. But here’s a hint: it’s by Meredith Brooks.

Another fun, great day of O-Staff.

Another fun, great day of O-Staff.

president's dinner

My, my… how Jaimie has shrunk since this picture was taken at the President’s Dinner in 2007 and how I’ve enlarged. :)

honors convocation

Such an important person in my college life. I was so honored to have her present at my Honor’s Convocation! And now she’s a mama… we share our life’s journeys with each other.

What’s in the library

This has been a very, very slow week for book reading for me. I usually finish at least one book a week and since I posted what I was reading last week, I have not finished any books or started any new ones. So this will be a short post — but as usual, I still look forward to your recommendations because a girl can never read too much or have too many books on her to-be-read list!

forgotten garden kate mortonIn my “What’s in the library?” post, I mentioned that I had just finished The House at Riverton, my first Kate Morton book. I’ve been promised by many people, both virtual and in real life, that this book is by far her best. I guess I’m glad I read less than the best first then! Honestly, it’s been a long and crazy week so I haven’t gotten very far in reading this. I’m less than 100 pages in. Not that it’s a bad book, but I just haven’t had time. (Let’s be honest, I have been far too busy watching Gilmore Girls and Parenthood to read!)

From what I have gathered so far, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is a historical mystery of a young girl sent to the US on a boat many, many years ago. Her story unfolds after her death at the inquiry of her granddaughter. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten but I’m enjoying it so far… if only I could enjoy watching tv less this week!

What are you reading? Share with me in the comments, and don’t forget to share any other recommendations you have for me as well!

The middle place, part two

I had this fantastic English teacher in college who helped me keep my sanity so many times. She also helped me write a book, and even though I’m not sure I will ever do anything with the real, actual novel I wrote (yes… I wrote a big, fat chunk of words my junior year of college), I learned so many lessons from her and through the book writing process. One thing she taught me about writing is something I will never forget.

I was searching so hard to find my voice as a writer and was taking a research class with this awesome teacher, Andrea. I had two other classes with her as well. I picked Flannery O’Connor, a Southern gothic author, to research and after writing the first two-page draft of our first assignment, I gave the paper to Andrea and asked her to help me figure out what I could do to find my voice. She read it and during our next class together, she pulled me into the hallway. Before she handed me the paper, she said, “You’re probably going to freak out when you see this, but you should know that your paper is good. Very good, but you’re right. It lacks your Krista voice.” Then she handed me the paper then and my eyes popped open wide. Through every paragraph on the first page, Andrea has drawn a red line. I flipped to the second page. Red lines through every paragraph on that page, too. Except for the last. That had a big red circle around it.

“Start here,” she said. “Start at the end.”

So I’m starting at the end.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

When I was 15, I had an abortion. That’s not really a surprise (I’ve written about it a lot here; just click the “my story” tag at the end of this post), and it’s not really the end, either. I am living daily in the end. What feels like ice cold water in my face today is that I am working at the pregnancy center today. It is Wednesday, after all, and I work here every Wednesday.

The shock is that fourteen years ago today, I had an abortion. I was 15 years old. I didn’t know anything about Roe v. Wade. I wasn’t aware that this day would follow the anniversary of that court case for the rest of forever.

I just knew how scared and alone I felt.

Uh, this is 15-year-old me. Black hair & super terrible glasses. Yet... I had friends. I can't even comprehend it myself.

Uh, this is 15-year-old me. Black hair and a bun we referred to as a “footh” & super terrible glasses. Yet… I had friends. I can’t even comprehend it myself. (Steph, I cut you out of this picture. Only one of us should be embarrassed by this picture, and it’s not you today.)

The funny things is, it’s 14 years later and I’m about to turn 30. My life is so much more stable it was than when I was 15, yet there are days where I still feel like that girl. I could swear that’s who I am. I’m not as scared anymore, but sometimes I still feel alone. Not because I’m the only one who’s had an abortion since abortion became legal in 1973. But because I feel like I can only talk about what I went through so many times before people get sick of hearing about it. It’s a silly reason, I know, but the kind of grief I bottled up in me for so long and only let go a few months ago is a grief that society doesn’t accept yet.

They support my decision on January 22, but they cannot support my grief on January 23.

So today I share my grief with you. It’s lesser than it was in September, when I wrote a post called “The Mending” (my most viewed and linked post!). But it’s still here. I suppose it will be a lifelong process. I just had to share today what I shared yesterday: the love of God is so big and unconditional that I hope you know it. I know it, and I am incredibly thankful for His grace and that even though I have lived a life worthy of His wrath, His son has spared me from it. It is my prayer that anyone reading my blog today and in the future knows His grace in this area. If you have walked in my shoes…

I love you. And so does He. I will grieve with you and I will open my arms and heart to you. We can live the end together as we find our voice in this world. I wish I could put into words more what I feel, but all I can really do right now is feel it, if that even makes sense. If all you can do is feel it, that’s enough. We will live the words soon enough.

I'd like to end this post on a lighter note. So here is 17-year old me (back row, glasses, left side). Also, my friends who are in this picture will probably stop being my friend after they see this picture.

I’d like to end this post on a lighter note. So here is 17-year old me (back row, glasses, left side). Yes, I am wearing a fake tattoo on my neck. Yeah. Yeah. That’s all I can say. Also, my friends who are in this picture will probably stop being my friends after they see this picture.