you were right about Jesus or you weren’t

Sarah Bessey’s new book Out of Sorts releases today. As a member of her launch team, I am participating in this synchroblog with the prompt “I used to believe _____ but now I believe _____.” I LOVED Sarah’s book and would highly recommend you order a copy of it. (Let’s be honest. The greatest books are always yellow!)

– – – – – – – – – –

I grew up and became a Christian when I was 12, because I was scared of hell at a fire-and-brimstone play at a Baptist church. But before that, I would have most likely identified as Christian simply because I wasn’t anything else. My family wasn’t Jewish or Muslim or anything really so I always saw myself as Christian by default.

Once I accepted Christ, I attended youth group. We met on Friday evenings in a room reserved just for the teenagers. It had a raised stage, old metal chairs, and stank of sweat and hairspray and dirty feet. In this room we worshiped together to simple songs and our youth pastor, Bobby, shared a short message every week. During the summers, we went to beaches and walked around the mall. I had friends and I liked going, mostly because I didn’t have friends at school. Friday nights were the nights where I was accepted without question. Sometimes I came to church on Sunday mornings, where we sang from hymnals and wore dresses and flats instead of jeans and running shoes.

In ninth grade, the youth pastor left, so I decided to go to a new church with a few girls I’d made friends with in high school. If I had understand what denominations were, I could not have picked a church more different than the one I just left — I moved from a quiet Baptist church to a Pentecostal church replete with prayer flags and tambourines, were people spoke in tongues freely during service and altar calls happened at the end of every sermon. I made friends here, too, but this time they were my friends in school as well.

We sat together at lunch, most days talking for a few minutes about Jesus and also about boys and dating and we whispered things about sex and smoking pot when we thought no one was listening. We learned about Him at church on Sundays and youth group on Tuesdays and during Wednesday evening service and on Thursdays we took care of the kids in the nursery during choir practice and told them about Jesus, too. But I don’t think most of really knew Jesus. We were Christians by choice then, but what we believed about Him was less by choice and more by force.

I knew a lot about Jesus when I was a teenager. I knew He was holy and I understood that my sins separated me from His holiness. So I worked hard to prove how holy I was. And when I messed up and made stupid mistakes, when I felt shame because of what others had done to me, when still worse things (that I couldn’t talk about for a long time) happened, I knew I was defiled and worthless because Jesus demanded you give up all of the crap that kept you from Him, and I just didn’t know how to give it up to Him. He required you to walk away from the comfort of licking your wounds in the corner and I couldn’t let go of the shame and I couldn’t tell people what I’d done and sometimes I wasn’t even sorry about it all, about clinging to the pain and the tears because it was safe and I knew it and even though it hurt, it didn’t scare me.

I used to think you were right about Jesus or you weren’t, and since I knew the right things about Jesus, about His holiness and how His loved work, I had to walk away from all of the garbage the church dumped on me when I told them some of the things I was going through because they made it clear that in light of what Jesus had done, I definitely wasn’t good enough. I only ever told them about the abortion at 15 because it was all I needed to tell them to treat me like a pariah. They taught me about Jesus and they made Jesus unsafe for me because they made me see Him with blinders on.

So I left. I walked away and said never again. I lived in a world where I didn’t feel right or good about things, because deep down I missed Jesus. I missed what I once had with him. As my friend Sarah Bessey writes in her new book Out of Sorts,

When I made the decision to stop going to church and to stop calling myself a Christian, it didn’t feel good. But there had been a long litany of abuses, burn-out, and exhaustion. The trail of hurt people wounded souls, and even dead bodies was too great. It weighed on my soul, and I felt tremendous grief. I couldn’t align myself with that anymore.

I just could not do it anymore. And I didn’t have to. I wasn’t living in a home that mandated that I earn Jesus’ love by my Sunday morning and Tuesday evening attendance. No one cared about my righteousness if I wasn’t at church. Finally I found a place that didn’t break me as much as the church had.

But things change. It took nine years but somehow, my heart softened and God gave me a new friend, six years ago this month in fact. When every other friend I had who knew Jesus was in a place of hardship on their own — marriage stuff and new babies and grad school — God said, “Here is someone who doesn’t know what you carry. She loves me. Ask her about me.”

So I did. We’d already been friends for a year by the time I gathered up my courage to ask her about her Jesus, who seemed to be so different than the Jesus I met so many years before. I asked her a lot of questions. I talked to her a lot. Sometimes I cried. I stood by her side, with sweaty palms, the first time I walked back into a church for a regular Sunday morning service. I sang quietly and didn’t raise my hands or arms. I glanced around, looking everyone in the building with me. There were no prayer flags or speaking in tongues or tambourines. How could the Jesus here be the same Jesus when I left the There?

I didn’t know how it was possible. Even though I was in my late 20s, it seemed impossible to reconcile these Christians with those. So I kept coming back. I had to see if they were the same. And in some ways, yes, they were the same. That’s what scared me a little bit, because the words they said and the stories they told about the Bible reminded me so much of the other church, and I still felt so wounded and raw from it. But then I got to know people, one person at a time, and I saw that there were differences, too. These differences let me ask the hard questions, let me have the space to grow and change. I prayed and begged God to change me in the ways He needed to change me because I saw that I wanted Him again but I couldn’t let go of the things the world had taught me during my nine years of wandering, but I also couldn’t let go over the things about Jesus that the Baptist church at taught me. I was afraid to let it go, because how could we all be Christians if we didn’t believe the same things? Sarah says it perfectly:

I’ve had to build up a bonfire in my backyard and throw a few cherished beliefs and opinions right into the flame. There is always something so satisfying about watching an ugly lie burn away to ash.

Those lies that tried to keep me from who Jesus is burned, little by little, until they were a pile of crispy pieces that I could walk away from.

I used to think you were right about Jesus or you weren’t, but now I think that we all know Jesus in different ways, and in different seasons our relationship with Him looks different, and my relationship with Him looks different from yours, and we aren’t wrong. We just know Him differently and there’s nothing wrong with that.

And things are still changing. I am still changing and growing, and to tell you the truth sometimes it scares the hell out of me. What I believed five years ago, when I first came back to church, is not what I believe now. The more I learn about and know Jesus personally, the more what I believe looks so different. The more I pray and spend time reading the Bible, the greater my questions are, and it frightens me that for every answer I get, I have five more. But something in me reminds me that I need to live the questions now, not fear them. Then I take a deep breath and remember this:

If our theology doesn’t shift and change over our lifetimes, then I have to wonder if we’re paying attention. The Spirit is often breathing in the very changes or shifts that used to terrify us. Grace waits for us in the liminal space. We can be afraid to question. We are afraid that if we let ourselves question theology or doctrines — the theology we developed or were given in our first naiveté — that we will be at risk.

I am paying attention. I am leaning into the questions, into the hard things and letting them shape me under God’s guidance. I am listening more. I am embracing the stillness and the unknown because this is the space where the shifts begin to make sense to me. This, too, is my greatest wish for you. As Sarah says, and I’ve learned by trial,

I hope we change. I hope we grow. I hope we push against the darkness and let the light in and breathe into the Kingdom come. I hope we become a refuge for the weary and the pilgrim, for the child and aged, for the ones who have been strong too long. And I hope that we live like we are loved. I hope we all become a bit more inclined to listen, to pray, to wait.

Advertisements

brave, bald, and the walls of Jericho

I’ve had a lot of people ask me a lot of questions over the last week and a half about my hair, what it’s like to be bald and if they can touch it. And most of those people have said the same thing to me: “You’re so brave for doing it. I don’t think I ever could.”

This is the statement I struggle with the most because it doesn’t seem like a brave thing at all to me.

In fact, it was impulsive. I didn’t wake up that morning with the intent to shave my head. Although my hair wasn’t as thick or curly or distinctively red as it once was, I loved it – in all its curlyish, reddish splendor. I was caught up in a massive, twisting swirl of emotion and decided, in those few seconds, that I was going to do it.

It didn’t feel brave as I sat in the chair, having my hair put into tiny ponytails so it could be donated. It didn’t feel brave as I felt the buzzer make its first swoop across my perpetually-hot head. In fact, it was so incredibly calm that I didn’t really feel like anything.

Left: day zero. Right: day seven.

Left: day zero. Right: day seven.

So I’m struggling with brave. I’ve gotten funny looks from people – on Saturday, a woman walked past me twice at Target, blatantly staring while I talked to a friend in the aisle. Others have assumed I’m sick and have asked me outright. A last at church said “So what happened to your hair?” very boldly. Others still think I’m making a statement about my sexuality. But I don’t think it takes bravery to deal with that. Just a thick skin and lots of patience.

Because the thing is, I made a very willingly, albeit impulsive, decision to go bald to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Like it or love it, it was a choice I made. And my hair will grow back – is already going back quite nicely, thanks to some supplements I’m taking. I don’t mean to diminish the positive support of those who call me brave, but I’m 30 years old (for two and a half more weeks!). I’ve relatively healthy. I have a lot of life ahead of me, and a lot of hair ahead of me.

What is brave, if I am not?

Listening to God speak, and responding with obedience.

I am terrible at this. For evidence, let me remind you of the six months God clearly told me through His word, pastors, and other Christians (all without knowing what I was wrestling with) that He was calling me to volunteer at the pregnancy center. I said, “No no no, this isn’t what You’re calling me to do. Something else. Anything else.” I practically had a nervous breakdown when I read a chapter in Weirsbe’s On Being A Servant of God about how God sent a big fish to a disobedient Jonah. I mean. For the love. Could it have been anymore clear?

And still I resisted.

Eventually I said yes, but it cost me a lot – and the cost could have been avoided if I had said yes in the first place when I recognized God’s calling on my life to serve. It was only to be for a short season, but it was what He had for me.

Because I know how hard the yes can be, I am always so inspired by those who shove past the no to grab hold tightly to the yes: past the uncertainty, the fears, the doubts. Past Satan’s whispers of “You’re not good enough” and “You will never succeed” and “Did God really tell you…?” a la Eve in the Garden.

Sometimes the yes is scary. Sometimes it seems like it’s going to be a giant disaster, a horrible plan.

But the yes is always worth it when it’s done the way God works it.

I think of Joshua and Jericho. Can you even imagine how crazy it must have been to say yes to God when He said to walk around the walls of Jericho? To say yes to yelling to knock down the walls?

Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
(Joshua 6:1-5)

But that’s what Joshua, under the authority of God, had the Israelites do. I can’t imagine God telling my pastor to tell us to walk around a firm, well built wall seven times on that seventh day, shouting at the right time, and watching the walls fall. Cannot fathom it. But that’s exactly what happened. God knew. He ordained it. And brave Joshua, and his brave people – they did it because they trusted in God.

Trusting in God. I’m working really, really hard on making that a reality. Some days I do it better. Some days I feel like I can’t even turn to God because all I’ll do is present Him with a list of things I would like Him to do or give to me, and I know that my heart is in a very ugly place in those moments. I wish it weren’t. I pray so much that it won’t be there for long.

Can I direct us a little away from my own selfish heart to the hearts of a group of ladies that aren’t selfish, but instead incredibly brave?

A few years ago, I saw that some bloggers I admire started doing a devotional study together using the YouVersion app and were tagging their tweets and instragram pictures with #SheReadsTruth. Over these last two years, the number of women participating has grown by huge numbers – huge! They’ve written their own plans, many of which I have participated in (mostly quietly). They launched a beautiful website. God has given them this crazy dream of doing something more – and they’re say yes. They’re building an app.

The #SheReadsTruth team has started a Kickstarter project. Their initial goal was to raise $35,000 by April 22 at 9:59 pm. Within 22 hours of opening the project, they had raised every single dollar they needed. Speechless. It literally left me speechless.

Have you met me? I AM NEVER SPEECHLESS.

So now they are actively working on their next goal: $65,000 – because that first goal only covers an iPhone app. I own an iPhone, but I want my sisters who have Android devices to share in the app fun with me, and that is exactly what this next goal will make happen. It’s going to be a killer app. It will have full versions of the Bible in it (they’ve already secured the rights to a few), the ability to take + edit pictures, reading plans/devotions (for purchase), the ability to journal, and so much more.

I’ve backed this project because I full, utterly believe in what #SheReadsTruth does – it is bringing women of different ages, backgrounds, denominations, and seasons of life together to study God’s word.

Incredible.

One of the reasons I love the fact that this app is happening is because I remember so strongly what it felt like as I got my life together in my late 20s and returned to seeking and following God. Long before I started coming to church again, I felt the hunger to be in God’s word and to be in fellowship with other women, but I was afraid to reach out to my circle of real-life friends. I would have loved a place like #SRT to read and journal and question with other women. God gave me exactly what I needed in the form of a friend who allowed me to do the same things, but can you imagine how an app like this could change the lives of women who are questioning?

I could say, “Hey, download this app and let’s do the This is the Gospel or the This is the Bible study together.” Imagine. Just imagine how that would connect her with tens of thousands of other women who would love and support her, give her community and support.

It makes me want to sob with the beauty of it.

Will you consider backing it? $1 or $10,000 – every dollar raised counts. Every dollar is a woman who will get to experience God’s word with another woman, no matter how much physical or emotional or spiritual distance separates her from other women. Watch the video below and head over to the #SheReadsTruth Kickstarter page to back the project.

dear sweet girl

Dear sweet girl,

Today you are 18 years old. Today you are a high school graduate. Today you’re packing boxes of the last years, filling them with the memories and mementos of this last summer of your childhood. Today you are moving into a college dorm room high at the top of a hill in a town seven hours far from home. You have no car, no job, no money, no friends, and your hope is running desperately low. You are scared. You’re young and every fiber of your being is pulled taut, telling you to run from this strange place. Resist it. What you believe, the things you keep repeating to yourself – they are all lies. “I’m not smart enough. “I can’t afford it.” “I hate it here.” “I’m too different to ever fit in.” All of them – they are all lies from the devil. Do not, under any circumstances, allow them to become truths in your life. Because the truth is believing them will force you to deal with consequences for the rest of your life.

Because the truth is: You are smart enough. You’re here. You’ll get a job. You’ll get loans. You’ll work as hard as you have to. You can’t hate it. You haven’t given it a chance. You’ll fit in. You’ll find your people You just need to give it time. Everyone here has left behind their home and their comfort and their friends. More importantly, Jesus is incomprehensibly larger than every single emotion you’re feeling right now.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you can’t control much, but you can control the fact that you don’t want to be here anymore. You’ll figure out a way out instead of figuring out a way to make it work. You can’t control it, but let me tell you — you cannot manipulate it, either. You think that you don’t belong here and you won’t fit in, but girl, you don’t know the things God has planned for you if you remain obedient and stay the course that God has ordained for your life.

I know that the most logical thing seems to be to drive down that hill, down that freeway, through the sunshine and fields of wine country, right back into the home you’ve always knows, but I promise you, my sweet friend, that it isn’t. If you leave, life will go on. You will cry but you will laugh. You’ll keep in touch with old friends and you’ll make new ones, and eventually you’ll finish school, and the years will pass by so quickly: they will be a vapor in your life. But so much will happen between where you are when you leave that high hill and where you’ll be years later. There will be some self-inflicted injures that will scar you, literally scar you, and some mental and spiritual injuries that will scar you no less than the scars that your arms will bear witness to as you turn into an adult. You will lose your faith and find the world, walking far from what you know the truth is. God will redeem it and turn it all into something beautiful – He will restore the years the locusts ate, and something mighty and holy and sacred will come. You will find your words and you will come back to the place where you know you’re deeply loved by a mighty, holy, passionate, forgiving God. What the world wanted to hold against you, God will use for His glory, and He will direct your path into something powerful for His name. All of your suffering won’t be for naught.

But my sweet girl, this is all the result of your disobedience. This is all a result of the gut reaction you had in the face of change and newness of adult life. Years later, you will find yourself in the car with a woman twenty years older than you, and you’ll listen raptly as she tells you the story of a horse who backs up in fear right down an embankment, dropping its rider. You’ll listen, trembling in her cool truck, as you wait to hear if the rider died, and when you find out she escaped with only a severely battered body, spending weeks in a wheelchair before she miraculously got on her horse again, you will deflate as you let out the breath that bound you tensely to your seat. You will listen because you know in your heart that you are that horse and your life is that rider. You will see your own face as you imagine the terror of the horse, its wild legs flailing as it tries to gain its composure and grounding again, but the truth is that if you allow yourself to go to that extreme, the only way to right yourself is to do it after you’re done falling. And my darling girl, if you reach the subtle beginning of that embankment, I guarantee that you will not be able to right yourself before the slope becomes too drastic to fight against.

A scared horse, you reared up without understanding the damage that would come. You didn’t count the cost and look to the One who held your hand and your heart, the One who you would be surprised to find still holding on years later, when the fog was gone and you could see clearly again. God redeems us all if we submit, but first and foremost – doesn’t He deserve to use our obedience for His glory instead of the mess we create when we disobey? Isn’t it much better for Him, and for us, if we sacrificially give him our firstfruits of obedience and trust instead of the leftovers that come when we put fear and distrust and disobedience first? God already knows what you will choose. Choose well, my love. Because years from now, the advice you give to other young women will be shaped by how you honored Him. You will advise them and it will be good, from God, but it will be shaped by one path or the other. You’ll fall down the embankment or you will hold steady on in the field and over the mountains. Steady on, my love. Hold steady.

Now is the time you can choose.

The woman you will become in the years to come will be loved so thoroughly by God, regardless of what your life looks like today. Be comforted to know that once you believe and accept Him, nothing can separate you, but I beg you to drawn near now and not wait. The blessings God has for you deserve your attention now, not later. Trust that His plan is better than anything you could ever conceive of on your own. Don’t manipulate these days, this college, these people, this time. They are all a part of God’s plan for you. Let them lift you up and encourage you and your heart.

I love you, now and then,

Krista

how big your brave is

There is a bathroom at the high school I attended that was just down the hall from my government class. My senior year, when I was the most anxious and fearful I can ever imagine, I used to slip out of class with a bathroom pass and quietly go into one of the stalls. It was there that I would find respite from the hurt in my heart by carving straight lines into the meaty part of my upper arms.

No one suspected a thing. I wasn’t popular, but I had a lot of friends in many different social groups. I wasn’t a 4.0 student, but I turned the majority of my homework in on time, I got better-than-average grades, and I was never disrespectful to teachers.

Bravery to me was closing my eyes and feeling pain wash over me. I wore my bravery small and tidy, hatch marks that never faded fully even as the years would go on and I would see that I was not brave – I was afraid.

In college I lived for the cause. It didn’t matter what the cause was – but I had one. I bravely used this voice and these words and this passion to send up the rally cry.

But to tell you the truth, it wasn’t bravery – it was bravado. It was a coverup for the truth, which is that I was hurting inside and falling apart and I didn’t know how, couldn’t find the words, to explain it to those around me.

All of my life, my bravery has been this: a sham, false, anything but.

I can’t get it out of my head. It’s been echoing in my mind all day long, and every time I’ve been alone at work or in the car I’ve cranked it up. Its message is one that hits dangerously deep for me.

The reality is, at 17 I couldn’t define bravery. I couldn’t at 22 or 25 or really even at 28. Maybe I will never be able to grasp fully the concept of what it is to be brave.

After all, I am not flying planes into dangerous locations. I don’t feel called to the mission field to share the gospel with hostile people. I don’t think God is calling me to church plant.

But what I do earnestly feel is that God is calling me to speak.

I want to be brave with my words. God has gifted me as a wordsmith. I don’t say that proudly, because I truly know that I am by no means the most eloquent writer or public speaker, but I know where my strengths lie, and I am incredibly comfortable with words, with telling a story. In the moments where I have spoken with a voice that does not waver and hands that do not tremble, I have been seeking God more dearly than every before.

But I am not brave.

I hold back what I want to say. I feel the words rising out of my mouth, and I choke them back. I’m so afraid of what will happen, so I list my fears instead showing the world how big my brave is.

I’m young – I’ll offend – I won’t be received in love – I’ll alienate – I’ll shove it down their throats – I’ll be a hypocrite – they’ll never listen – they won’t take me seriously – it’s too complicated – they’re a lost cause – someone else will do it – I am afraid.

Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.

I can hear God telling me that. It’s funny how this song, not Christian in its intent, strikes me so deeply as a Christian.

Be brave with the words I want you to share.

If I were brave, I would say: truth is not objective.
If I were brave, I would say: God loves you.
If I were brave, I would say: I’ll love you no matter what, but I love you enough to tell you the truth.
If I were brave, I would say: stop doing that – you know better.
If I were brave, I would say: this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want you to be brave, too, even though it scares you.

If I were brave, I would say: it scares me, too.

My all-time favorite blogger, Angie Smith, wrote a blog post last year that I have bookmarked and reference when I need to remember what bravery feels like. I read her words often and I remember what God has called me to do.

Who am I to believe my words matter?
Do you wonder the same?
But He whispers with love and power-
I shape the letters of your life. Look around at the beautiful and splendid things, and write them.
Your job, love, is not to create the story.
It is to turn each page and listen.
Look.
Believe that it is all worth telling.
I know the truth underneath this, after all.

Do I believe I have something worth telling? How I answer this question makes all the difference to what I am doing in my life. If I answer no, I don’t think I need to tell people, then the outcome is this – what is the point? Why bother to live my life this way if it makes no difference for me, if it means so little that I don’t want to share it with others?

But if I answer yes, it matters, then the fundamental truth is this: your eternity demands I tell you the truth of Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. If I believe it is a story worth telling and a life worth living, then I should shout it to the ends of the earth that His death wasn’t just for me, but for you, too.

I am bursting at the seams. I want to tell you that God loves you tremendously more than I will never have the words to express. Your faults and your failures? The moments of bravado you have claimed to be bravery? The relationship you’re ashamed of, the mistake you have made the cripples you, the burden you carry that seems to suffocate you?

Oh, He knows you and He knows it all and He loves you so deeply and tenderly that none of it matters except for how He will use it for good.

Let that fill you to overflowing with bravery so you will tell others.

I don’t often speak of my scarred arms. The scars have faded and they aren’t that noticeable unless I’m sunburned or exceptionally cold, I know they’ll always be there. I can feel them if I run my fingers lightly over my skin. Sometimes when I’m lying in bed reading or watching tv, my fingers drift over them softly, tracing lines that spell the words of a sad, scary story.

I once had a friend in college stare at my arm while we were in a warm car and say, matter-of-factly, “Those are you scars.” I felt embarrassed by her comment. I’m not proud of them. I couldn’t stand them at the time. In my mid-twenties I was still hoping that they would go away in a few more years. Her words hurt me and made me feel so terribly different.

But these scars, and this scarred life, afford me many opportunities now to be brave. I might trace the lines of a broken life, but it’s no longer in shame or hurt that I feel those grooves – it is with the promise that I see and will continue to see the good in those paths.

Tonight, I show you how big my brave is.

Slow things

I keep sitting down to write but these words won’t come.

I can feel them. They’re trapped. I want the flowing and the pretty words. The wise words and the words that express everything I need to say.

But they’re dammed up inside of me. Not like they used to, when all I felt was frustration — not frustration at the lack of words, but frustration at life. At feeling invincible, like no one saw me — feeling that I didn’t matter.

It’s different now. I matter to Him. He sees me.

And suddenly, all of the words that I have, that I long to write, they’re beautiful. I want to write stories and posts and poems that give people hope. I want to share the joy of Jesus with others. I want my “little darlings” to be soft and tender and poignant and raw and moving.

How frustrating for me to feel like I have all of those things trapped inside of me and yet they can’t get out. I know they’re there. I know they will come. I don’t think I’d love words so much if they weren’t intended to be used or said or spoken. But I’m ready to use them.

Now, please, Lord.

I’m not patient, so why must these words be patient? I want them to flow freely. I want to close my eyes and let my fingers fly across the keyboard. When I first realized I knew how to type without looking at the keys, I was in bed, in the dark, trying to fall asleep. My eyes were closed and I pictured a keyboard and there, in my mind, I could see each letter. I wrote words and sentences and paragraphs as I drifted off to sleep.

That. I want to see the words as easily as I did then. Perhaps — certainly — it was because I wasn’t searching for them.

And as I write, maybe that’s the lesson I am meant to learn.

Perhaps — certainly — it was because I wasn’t searching for them.

They just came to me, sweet and slow. They weren’t begging to get out, banging in my skull. When I didn’t think and I didn’t fight for them, they came.

God reminds me as I write of the slow things.

Certainly His salvation was not slow for me. My acceptance of it was, but His plan for me all along — it wasn’t ever slow. It was before I was.

But these things beautiful and lovely in my life? Most of them came in slow ways, as I waited with high hopes and heavy heart break. I wanted and begged for many of them and others I went into against my better judgement or by the will of others.

When I was suffering, when I longed to be free from those who hurt me and the hurts I choose to haunt myself with, time slowed.
When I walked away and said “I quit,” when I couldn’t look Him in the face, movement nearly ceased.
When I begged for Him to change me, and change seemed to come too painfully for my liking, time was frozen, drifting by so slowly that it stilled to be entirely still.

I am reminded, over and over again in the course of my life, of how He crafted the ways in which He would use these slow moments.

He said, “I will use all things for good for those who love me, who are called according to My purpose.”

I have waited for years. Not patiently. Almost never patiently. I have tried to use my life, the long way around that I’ve taken, my own way. The way of the world. And I’ve grieved because of it. I’ve suffered and cried as I’ve tried, swiftly, to rush my life and my dreams against the grain of His goodness.

He said, “Be still and hold your peace. I am fighting for you.”

I’ve bought into being strong. There was no need to be slow and patient because I had strength instead. I rarely allowed my proud fighting spirit to freeze, to let Him take over for me. I punched the promises of Jesus as I struggled to beat the rest of the world into knowing my might.

And He said “I will use it for good. They meant it for evil, but I will make it good.”

I’ve wept bitterly. I have been broken. I have been angry and I have hated and I have lied. And I have used it for evil. Every hurtful thing, every word and action — I have taken them and used them in a world in a way that is evil and against His word. Yet He was taken them back and returned to me the very things I used to harm for His good instead, for the saving of lives.

And still, He said, “I am redeeming you, girl. I’ve bought you with a price and you’re Mine. You’re more than paid for. Don’t you know, love, that you have been mine since before time began? Now stop fighting. Be. Still.”

He is my slow and still and sweet thing. Not because He is slow and still, but because He asks for me to be slow and still, and He has waited for me since before time began. Before I numbered these hours and years, before I could be impatient about the words and the world, He knew me. He said, “I will wait for her.” He is long-suffering and He knows me by name.

I will take the long way for Him. I will watch Him as He continues to write me, the words of who I am, slow and still and every so sweetly, for His grander glory.

New year, new Krista

Edit: Um. I’m a little over-zealous with the Schedule tool because I totally wrote and intended to publish this post about two weeks ago. However, I set the Schedule date for 12/29/13. Whoops. So instead you’re getting it today. Same goals and everything. This suddenly makes a lot of things about my blog make sense, at least for me! Happy reading. And let me know — what are you goals for the year ahead?

My friend Steph recently sent me an email about a competition her gym is having called “New Year, New You.” The goal is to join a team and for your team to lose the greatest percentage of body fat and you can win $500. It seems crazy, but her team actually won the pre-holidays competition and she won real money. I haven’t decided if I am going to do the competition yet for the spring because there’s a lot of gym classes to go to and I really, really don’t like working out with other people, but it got me thinking. It’s a new year. It’s time for some new goals. I did a decent job of reaching my goals from last year, so I’d like to put some good thoughts into the five main things I want to do this year.

1. Read through the entire Bible.
I got through the New Testament like a pro this last year (2012). I know that the Old Testament can seem a little drier, but I found a super rad reading plan that breaks up the week so on Sundays I read a few chapters from one of the epistles, on Monday I read from the Law, Tuesday from the history books, Wednesday from the Psalms, Thursday from the books of poetry, Friday from books of prophecy, and Saturday from the Gospels. I love that Saturdays are the Gospels and I get to read from them just before church on Sunday. Update: I actually realized that I had to shift the dates around because the new year started on a Tuesday. So I read the epistles on Tuesdays, the law on Wednesdays, and so on until I get to the Gospels on Monday.

2. Grow in my relationship with God.
This year I would like to earnestly, actively spend time with Him in prayer. I didn’t pray nearly as much as I could have this last year, and I would like to make that change this year. In happy times and sad times and as well as times of praise and celebration and just pure, unrestrained worship: I want to grow to know Him and hear Him in my daily life and listen to the call and His will for me.

3. Attend the Influence Conference/establish this blog.
I was intrigued by using my blog as a way to share my love of writing as well as my love of Jesus but there was just no way that I could make it happen last year. But this year… oh this year! I an officially a founding member of the Influence Network and that it so freaking cool. From reading the Influence Conference hastag, it seems like people who attended got SO much out of it and I would like to have that opportunity! Plus, connecting with Godly women who have similar goals and aspirations is a really special thing, too, and since it looks like I’m not going to get to go to Europe in May, I want to do something special to celebrate turning 30.

4. Hit 75 books (including at least 5 from around my house).
Not really that worried about this. Did it last year two years ago, did it this last year. But I do want to be careful that when I read, I’m not taking time away from my Bible or my time with God — I want my pleasure reading to come in second to my God!

5. Move into a new leadership position with the pregnancy center.
I am already starting this this year as I am officially the table host coordinator for the big banquet the Pregnancy Center puts on. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time, but I know for certain this is a place God has directed me to. I’m going to be faithful and honor Him in this role and as my leadership in the organization grows!

Big dreams and God things

After this week, I can officially say that I am back into the swing of things. As I commented earlier in the week, I started School of Ministry again this week and tonight we had our first home group since the holiday. It was a very small gathering — just our two leaders, myself, and one other guy. Some people have class, two people had to work late, one person isn’t coming anymore… I hope our group remains stable because it’s one of the best parts of my week.

Normally we talk about the previous Sunday’s sermon, but since the two leaders had just arrived home after a week in Africa, we kept it more general and tonight’s discussion centered around what God has been doing in our lives or anything that He’s revealed to use lately. I was at a loss for an answer to that question because God totally is doing big things in my life but I can’t exactly describe them — yet. I guess what He is doing is working on my heart and my attitude. The attitude I’ve had in the past has been that I’m a Christian, I love the Lord, and I want His will for my life… as long as it doesn’t involve me actually talking about Him or His will with anyone I know in real life or anyone I might meet while I’m out and about, at work, running errands, visiting others people, or non-Christians. Which means the only people I’ve been willing to discuss God things with has been fellow Christians.

How very open of me.

So my answer to tonight’s question is that I’m not sure, exactly, what God is doing, except that I know He is preparing my heart for something big in 2013. I feel like this is a year that is going to define my direction in life, that if I am still and I seek Him, He will show me what He has planned for me. That’s both kind of scary but for the first time ever, so exciting. I am super ready to get this show on the road. (Hear that, Lord? I AM SO READY.)

I’ve got all of these big, big dreams in my life. Talents I feel like He has blessed me with. Skills He’s given me and a heart to love people, also from Him. I have desires and goals of my own that involve serving Him and glorifying His name. I’m ready to talk to people in my life about Him. I’m praying for boldness and so much mercy. And at the same thing, I’m excited to see the God things unfold. You know, the things He has in store for me. Because as much as my dreams carry me, I want His dreams to sustain me. I want the God things to be so bold in my life that I just shine His love.

So if you see this and you remember me in prayer, please pray that I’ll listen to His voice and His call, that others will confirm (and hold me accountable to) the things He has planned for me. Pray for perserverance and strength and that I spend time daily in His word and in prayer and in fellowship. Because I want this to be the year that I can look back on and say, “That’s the year I stepped up and said, ‘Yes, Lord!'”