Psalm 139:23

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of the everlasting."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Beauty will Rise

I love the changing seasons. It is such a beautiful reminder that nothing last long. Winter is my least favorite season. I love running... Especially outside. In the winter it's often too cold to run outside, so I have to settle for an indoor track. Everything looks dead in the winter... The trees have lost their leaves & the grass is brown. However, we don't stay stuck in the winter months. Spring is coming! After the cold the rain will come & finally new life. The flowers will grow , the leaves will reappear, & the grass will be green again. The days will be warmer & the sun will stay up longer. Prior to this beauty though, we have to go through the winter months.

Lyme Disease has been like a winter season on repeat for years. Often I felt isolated even while I was surrounded by people. No matter how much I talked  & processed I still felt like there was a level of pain no one could touch. It was an ache I've never known before... I couldn't express it, no matter how hard I tried. It was an ugly season!

We all face those seasons of life that cause our hearts to cry out to the Father. We demand answers & beg for comfort. We shake our fists  & rebuke the pain. Sometimes these tantrums result in clear, concise answers from the only one who was ever capable of healing our hearts. Other times we are left empty & remain a puddle on the floor.

Throughout my battle I had both experiences.  I longed for a God who would save me from the pain. I've known Him as my protector, provider, & sustainer for  25 years now. I wanted Him to show His power & rescue me! There was no shame in my game... I begged Him to heal me. The answers I was continually provided with were: I can sustain you! Beauty will rise from the ashes. I will bring good from the very things that were meant for evil. I had to come to the point that I could say, even if He doesn't save me. Even if I have this illness for the rest of my life, He is still good.

God did save my life, on more than one occasion but most specifically through removing the lyme bacteria from my blood stream. I am still recovering mentally, physically, emotionally, & spiritually. I don't think I will ever fully "recover" from lyme. My life won't be the same.... And that might be for the better. I have a deeper understanding & appreciation for the gift of life. Every single good day I am given is a gift. I don't want go forget how far God had brought me.

Life is hard... Faith is hard... And messy & individualistic. In so many ways we walk this life alone. Our journeys are individual. I don't know what your struggle is. I have no idea what storms you have endured or the scars your hearts have come to know. I don't understand anyone else's journey. However, I want to remind you that spring is coming! God causes the dead to live again. He is always recreating, reshaping, & redirecting. Beauty will rise from the ashes of your broken life.
Nothing is beyond repair for the creator. After all, you were made for His purpose & He never quits. He never fails!

Hold on! Hold onto the truth! Shut the world out, get quiet, & listen for the voice. Allow Him to speak truth into your pain. He is willing to take it from you. Nothing is too big for Him.

I have a beautiful little niece. When she gets scared she will run & jump in my husband's arms & exclaim "hold me!" She knows she is safe in his big arms & burley chest. I envision my own hurts in this same way...
I get to run to my Father knowing that when I exclaim "Hold me!" he will wrap me His arms & never let go.

Beauty will Rise from every storm, every tear, every broken piece of your life. Nothing is ever wasted! Nothing!

Matthew 11:29-30New International Version (NIV)

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Saturday, December 5, 2015

If I told you my story...

If I Told You My Story...

I love music. Music has this way of expressing the thoughts in my head that I can't seem to verbalize. I also love sports analogies. For whatever reason that is a language that makes sense to me. As someone who spends a lot of time teaching young folks I have come to realize that we all need something that connects the dots for us. In my battle with Lyme Disease both music & analogies have been immensely beneficial.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with an amazing husband. One of the things my husband does really well is that he uses our finances to create memories. This year he decided to take me to Bedlam for my birthday. As an avid football fan I cannot even describe how excited I was about this game. We had great seats

Unfortunately, we got beat. We were outplayed on both sides of the ball. From our seats it was so "easy" to see what the problem was. Our perspective was different. We could see the whole field at any given moment. However, the players did not have that same view. Instead they were seeing glimpses of the field & furthermore they were taking hits.

What we came to realize is that our paradigm of the football game was very similar to Lyme. Often times my husband & I would get frustrated with each other. He was sitting in the stands. He loved, he encouraged, he prayed, but at the end of the day he wasn't the one taking the hits. Given that I was in the midst of the battle I had a hard time seeing past the play that was right in front of my eyes. We both wanted to WIN, but we couldn't agree on how to do so. Our experiences with this awful disease were quite different. Therefore, our thoughts, emotions, & actions were also different. We both have a different story with Lyme. Both stories are true, but they are not the same. It was an individualized journey.

Paradigms matter. Our paradigms shape how we view the world on an every day basis. The stories we tell ourselves matter. All of these things shape how we deal with the joys & trials of this life. These things affect how we deal with each other, for better or worse.

That being said, my husband shares a different side of lyme than I can. Quite frankly I still find it difficult to put that journey into words. It was so much worse than I could ever possibly describe; yet it was also beautiful beyond description.

That sounds like a complete oxymoron. It doesn't make sense this side of heaven how something so tragic could be beautiful, but it was & it is. Through my brokenness I came to know my Heavenly Father in such an intimate way. Prior to lyme I knew that God loved me. I knew that He had a plan for me & I knew that He had promised to walk through this life with me. I just don't think I understood how close He really was.

In America it is easy to depend on ourselves. My needs are taken care of daily. I didn't worry about finances or whether or not I would have somewhere to lay my head. I am comfortable... Which honestly was a scary place to be spiritually. Through lyme I became completely dependant on God. It wasn't optional. Every single day I had to rely fully on God just to make it through the day. j

Anyway, like I said earlier music is a super important part of my life. Currently Big Daddy Weave has a song entitled "My Story." It is one of my all time favorites. Every time I hear the song I am take aback. I am going to include some of the lyrics...

If I told you my story...
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
You would hear Love that never gave up
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me

The song goes on with many descriptions of what life looks like because of Jesus. What I have come to realize is that if I told you my story you would undoubtedly see Jesus Christ. He was there when no one else could be. He literally carried me & because of that I am so thankful for my story. He truly is "Immanuel" God with us. 

I may never be able to fully describe this journey but I pray that as I begin to share pieces of my story that people will see Jesus Christ. The story was never about me or lyme or a number of other things. It was about a God who loves me relentlessly.

This season as we celebrate Immanuel I would encourage you to share your own story. In the brokenness the light of the world will shine through. He doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 

Psalm 18
1 I love you, Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.[d]
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me

Monday, November 2, 2015

In my deepest wound I saw your Glory, & it astounded me...

"In my deepest wound I saw your Glory, and it astounded me."

This quote describes in so many ways where I find myself today. I am not even sure how to begin this blog. I don't have the words to describe what took place. Nothing I can say even comes close.This will be less than eloquent, but I hope that you will see Christ despite my inability to communicate His glory....

As many of you know, I have spent my entire adult life battling Lyme Disease. What I have come to realize is that I may never have the words to describe this devastating journey. Until you have battled Lyme personally you cannot possibly understand what it is like. Every moment of every day is a battle. The bacteria literally invades your entire system.... organs, muscles, joints... nothing remains untouched. These are the things that make Lyme so hard to fight. Lyme has been labeled a "chronic illness." At nineteen years old I was given a life sentence. I was told that I would have to deal with this disease for the rest of my life. If I got lucky it would go into remission at least for a period of time.

All of that said, I have a unique perspective on the human body. Because of Lyme Disease I have found myself thanking God for simple things. For instance, I have thanked Him for the nineteen years of health that I was blessed with. In those days I never worried about my body. It never crossed my mind that there would come a day when my body wouldn't function properly anymore. I have thanked Him for legs that ache, because despite the pain I can still walk. I have thanked Him for the opportunity to work. Most of all, I have thanked Him for the bullseye rash that appeared on my left hip just days after infection. God was so merciful to me! He did not choose to protect me from contracting this illness, but He gave us immediate signs that something was desperately wrong. I quickly received treatment. What we didn't know then is that I would spend the next 5 1/2 years in & out of treatment.

I married my husband on May 18th, 2013. Within a month my Lyme had flared up. I was sicker than I had ever been. We have spent the last 2 1/2 years fighting this through extensive treatment. When I was only 22 years old my M.D. told me that there was nothing else she could do & she suggested that I go back to the naturalist that I had seen when I was 19.

I am a fighter. More often than not that isn't exactly a positive quality. I don't know how to give up. So I went into "fight" mode. We had a plan & I was going to get this into remission. I was determined that God could & would deliver me from this. I had already written the story line... Others would come to know Him through a miraculous healing. Do you hear the problem? "I" was going to fight... "I" was going to get well. "I" was going to write this story exactly how "I" wanted it to go. I had yet to realize that God wasn't asking me to fight. He was asking me to give HIM the battle. It took years for me to figure this out.

This past summer I was studying about the Fiery Furnace. I found myself in awe of the strength of these three men. Daniel 3:17-18 states, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image that you have set up." What I came to realize through this study is that God's goodness is not contingent on whether or not He saves me from earthly struggles. God is good in spite of. It was through this study & some time in prayer that I decided to "give up the fight." I remember distinctly praying in my living room floor & saying, "Even if you never heal me, you are still good. Help me live lyme well. Let your glory shine through my brokenness."

For whatever reason I was finally able to submit. I accepted my diagnosis & decided to live a life in spite of it. Through the next few months I was able to watch God use Lyme powerfully in my ministry. I became grateful for my ability to relate to others in their brokenness. For the first time Lyme made sense.

For whatever reason I believe that God wanted me to "give it up." All along He was calling me to submit. He was asking me to trust in things I couldn't see. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for & the evidence of things unseen." (Hebrews 11:1) He was giving me the opportunity to live out all of the things I've believed my entire life.

Last week a young lady that my Mom counsels said, "Your daughter is really sick. God is going to heal her." When my Mom told me what had been said I was a little freaked out. I told my husband, "Babe, that isn't the answer. He is using Lyme in my ministry. Healing isn't coming this side of heaven & I'm okay with that."

Fast forward a few days... Last Wednesday I went to see my naturalist for my 6 week appointment. I have been going to her every six weeks for the past two years. At my appointment she informed me that she couldn't find any traces of the Lyme bacteria in my system. This is medically impossible! Lyme stays in your system for life. There is no physical way that this is possible without the creator of the universe intervening on my behalf.

I serve a God who is famous for doing the impossible! He parted a sea so that HIS people could walk through on dry land. He used a rock to defeat a giant. After three days His son rose from the grave & conquered death once & for all. Lyme Disease is such a small task in comparison to the things my Lord has done. Yet I find myself today saying, "Lord, I believe, but help me with my disbelief." (Mark 9:24) I have known nothing but illness for so long that it is hard to even imagine a life that isn't dictated by Lyme.

This battle is far from over. There are still tons of toxins in my system. It will take time to detox. For the next two months I will be on forty-eight pills a day. Then I will see my doctor again for reevaluation. We do not know what this road looks like going forward. At this point it remains unseen. There is extensive damage to my body. We do not know if that will be reversed. What we do know is that God acted powerfully & miraculously on my behalf. We get to trust Him! Every single day that I am not constrained & confined from a bacteria that used to reside in my body I am going to get up & praise HIM.

God has a beautiful way of using the things that are most painful to reveal Himself both to ourselves & to those around us. Therefore, when you find yourself in a situation that you cannot see your way through cling to the cross. Jesus is our savior not just in heaven, but here on earth too. Allow Him to rescue you. He does not always save us from the trial, but He will never test us beyond what we can bear. We can bank on His promises. It is in your deepest, darkest moments that you will find a God who never lets go... Let Him hold you!

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere."- Psalm 84:10

"When I called you answered me..." Psalm 138:3

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." - Ephesians 3:20

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar in wings like eagles; they will run & not grow weary; they will walk & not faint."- Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sweetly Broken

Today I find myself contemplating on the journey. These last few years have been amazing & challenging all at the same time. I am broken in so many different ways. This disease has changed me from the inside out. I understand what it is like to struggle daily. I also understand the peace that surpasses understanding that only The Lord can provide. 

What I have come to realize is that it is in my brokenness that God's glory shines through. For so long I have wanted a way out of this mess! I've looked for ways to cover up the scars. I've longed for the life that I used to have. I've wanted to go back to the days where I sympathized for people who fought difficult diseases, but I didn't know how to empathize. However, God has not "saved" me from Lyme. Instead God has reminded me to, "Be still & know..."

This past week I was reminded of the story of Jacob. I love this story! I have emotionally wrestled God many times this year, so I can relate on a deep level. After wrestling God it is said that Jacob used a staff to lean on for the rest of his life. No one gets to wrestle with God & walk away unchanged :).  From that day forward he was forced to literally lean on God. 

Today I am broken in a way that may never be fully healed. Because of a small bite on my left hip my entire body has taken a beating. As a result I have learned to lean on God every moment of every day. Full dependency on God is no longer a cliche that we hear at church when it is convenient. In the same way that Jacob couldn't walk without his staff I realize that I can't get through the days without God's sovereign power! I have learned to pray for the little things. This struggle has brought about a deeper relationship with God than I ever knew to search for before. You see, that's the beauty of being broken. I have a deep realization that I cannot do this on my own. 

As I hit my five year mark today I continue to pray for healing. I know that God can fully heal me if that is His choice. More importantly I know that He will sustain me regardless. Maybe brokenness isn't such an devastating disaster. Maybe there is more security in the brokenness. It is when I try to do life by myself that I tend to find the most trouble. When I am wrapped in the arms of my Heavenly Father I am fulfilled in a way I've never known & that my friends is when brokenness becomes beautiful. 

We serve a God who loved us so much that He was willing to be broken one piece at a time. Today I rest in the assurance that there was one who went before me. HIS brokenness saved the entire world! While I won't save the world, I pray that Lyme Disease becomes a victory for the kingdom. I pray that in the brokenness HIS light will shine!

"But those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run & not grow weary. They will walk & not faint."- Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Embrace the Struggle!

Often in life I find myself trying to avoid struggle. Let's be honest, struggle is painful. As humans we have an innate desire to avoid pain. Yet struggles exist in every day life to some extent or another. If struggle is an unavoidable part of life how do we handle it?

As seasons change in life my struggles become different things. When I was a teen my biggest struggle involved things like losing my cell phone charger. Watching as my battery slowly decreased was a dreadful process, which now seems utterly ridiculous! We spend so much of life surrounded by gifts that we can't even recognize because we are too busy fighting whatever the "struggle" is of that given moment.

 For the past few years my largest battle has been against my own body. When my symptoms worsened I wanted to run from this struggle. I spent several months wrestling with God & looking for a way out. What I have come to realize is that I am not meant to simply find a way out. God is continually changing my heart & that is taking place through the struggle of illness.

This week I've experienced a few good days. On those good days I found myself thanking God for things like restful sleep, energy, & days without migraines. I rejoiced in time spent with my husband, family, & Contact kids. I soaked in the beauty of a sunset. This week I have been utterly captivated by God's goodness!

 What I came to realize through my prayers of thanksgiving was just how much I've taken for granted. I spent nineteen years of my life ridiculously healthy. I thanked God for "health", but it didn't mean the same thing that it means today. I didn't know the struggle & therefore I didn't know the joy of the simple gifts we receive every day.

For so long I have wanted to go back & change this. I just wanted my "life" back. Today I can say I would not change it. I am learning every day to embrace the struggle that I have been given. I would not have chosen this path. It is far more difficult than even I could have imagined. Yet it is a beautiful masterpiece of God's goodness in the midst of trouble. Someone told me once that God does not always save us from the fire, but He always shows up with us in the fire. Every day I learn just a little more about that truth. I do not serve a God who chooses to protect me from the pain. I serve a God who chooses to use the pain & because of that I get to embrace the struggle.

As we all begin a new week instead of dreading Monday enjoy the moment. Whatever your struggle is choose to embrace it instead of run from it. Find God's goodness in the midst of the pain. He is there... always loving, always growing, & always shaping you into what you have yet to become.

My prayer this week is that I would look less like Kayla & more like Jesus. I want God to use the struggle of Lyme Disease to show His infinite power, for when I am weak He is strong!

2 Corinthians 12:9- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

"Embrace the struggle & let is make you stronger. It won't last forever!"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Life in the Lyme Light

It has been almost three years since the last time I wrote a blog. I've gotten busy with life & this blog quickly took the backseat on my priority list. However, I am a firm believer that when God works in miraculous ways we should build an altar. Throughout the Old Testament we see believers creating a physical reminder of the victories that God has provided. Tonight I want to use this blog as my "altar". 

Throughout the last five years I have struggled in a vicious battle against Lyme Disease. When I was nineteen years old I got a tick bite while camping. It was the first tick bite I had ever gotten. I had no idea that this small tick bite would impact my life from that day forward. Within just a few days I became very sick with flu-like symptoms. Then a bullseye rash appeared on my left hip. I went to the E.R. & was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I had never even heard of Lyme Disease. So I left the hospital with a game plan & little to no concern over where this was headed. I was going to take the antibiotics & move on with my life. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get to just move on with my life. Instead my health deteriorated almost daily. At the time I was a full-time college student & working part-time for the ministry that I still work for today. I remember calling my Mom my sophomore year & saying, "Mama, I can't do this! I hurt so bad every day! I can't take this!" I was heartbroken as this disease slowly took over my life. I felt defeated, ashamed, & angered. It wasn't fair! I was too young to be sick. Yet it didn't matter. I was sick & no amount of "fit-throwing" was going to change that. 

My senior year of college I seemed to do a bit better. I still fought migraines every day, joint pain, & a constant exhaustion, but I had learned to live with these symptoms. In fact, I contributed much of my exhaustion to "doing too much." There is no such thing as "part-time" ministry. I was working more hours than expected, planning a wedding, & trying to keep ahead in my studies. Exhaustion was to be expected. 

I married my husband in May of 2013. We were so excited to embark on this journey together. He truly is my best friend! Every day with him is an adventure & I am beyond blessed to be the woman he chose to spend his life with. On May 18th we stood before our family & friends & promised to love each other through sickness & health. We had no idea what those words would mean in the months to come. We were blissfully unaware of the path that we would be forced to walk. 

In July of 2013 my symptoms worsened to an unbearable level. It didn't seem to matter how much I slept, I could never get enough rest. Every day activities became overwhelming. I remember one day having to rest after taking a shower because just a shower completely wiped me out. I was in excruciating pain every day! I was exhausted from fighting this disease  & yet at night I couldn't sleep because of my pain level. It was a never-ending battle!

We knew that we had hit an all-time low for my health. My husband & I began to pray for answers. After several months of trying different things I went back to the naturalist I had seen early on in my diagnosis. She put me on 80 lyme drops a day & thirty-eight pills. For the next year I saw her every six weeks. Each time she would adjust my meds for whatever I was needing at that specific time. Due to Lyme Disease several of my organs have suffered: liver, kidneys, adrenal gland, thyroid, gut, etc. This disease literally took over my body to the point that my body no longer does the things that God created it to do. 

As of this last Thursday we are finally beginning to see improvements. My liver is functioning better, there is less stress on my kidney, & my thyroid has began to function. I am not "well" by any means. I have to continue taking all of my meds, but we have finally found a combination of medicine that is working!

I have spent the last forty-eight hours completely overwhelmed! This disease has challenged me to my very core. I am an incredibly strong-willed person. I have fought this disease with everything I have & yet in the last month I simply had to "give up." Two weeks ago I finally accepted that I wasn't going to "get well" & that was okay. God never promised to make me well... He promised to sustain me. I prayed with my husband & decided to lay it down & live life to the full in spite of Lyme Disease. 

When I walked in Thursday, I was expecting to see "no improvement" & I had already decided to be "okay" with that. For the last year I have felt like a failure for not being able to "beat" Lyme. I was doing everything the doctor said & yet I wasn't getting well. Therefore, the progress that was found this month shocked me. This is by far the best news we have received on my health in five years. I am so unbelievably thankful!

On the way home I heard a song on the radio & I cried like a baby! The song states, "You were there when it all came down on me. And I was blinded by my fear. And I struggled to believe. But in those unclear moments you were the one keeping me strong. This is how my story's always gone. I have won & I have lost. I got it right sometimes. But sometimes I did not. Life's been a journey. I've seen joy, I've seen regret & You have been my God through all of it. And this is who you are. More constant than the stars up in the sky. All these years of our lives I look back & I see You. Right now I still do & I'm always going to."...You have been my God through all of it...I have been privileged to see God's hand in every step of this horrific battle. 

I have learned so many things throughout my battle with Lyme. I have seen the promise of Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the of those who love the Lord, who have been called according to His purpose." This promise does not mean that lyme is "something good." What it does mean is that God will take this ugly, devastating piece of my story & combine it with glorious moments so that others will come to know Him. And that is of far greater good than a life-time of health.

As humans we believe we are invincible! We have dreams & plans & we tend to think that nothing & no one can derail those things. However, that simply isn't the case. Our lives can change in an instant. Our dreams can be shattered into a million pieces. In July of 2010 my life was forever changed, but my life is not over. 

I am a huge planner & a bit of a control-freak. Through this battle I have began to learn how to live in the "moment." Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Lyme changes every single day. I am learning to enjoy the good days & worry less about the "bad" days that could lie ahead. After all, we are only promised today. Our lives are only a vapor. While I get to walk this life I want to "live". I don't want to sit around & worry about my health. 

Tonight I am thankful for a God who truly has seen us through it all! He has never let me go! He has picked up the pieces of my broken heart numerous times. He has gently reminded me that He has a plan in spite of the pain. He has placed people in my path who speak life when I need it the most. He has given me an amazing husband who never wavers. Curtis is my strength when I don't have any left. I've been blessed with an amazing family & countless friends who spur me on. 

Therefore, tonight I lift my hands in victory & leave it all on the "altar." My Lord held nothing back when He placed His son on a cross for our sins. I don't want to hold anything back in my attempt to live this life for His glory! I want to live with abandon & allow Him to write His story on my heart... After all, He has always been the main character. We just get the opportunity to participate in the grace. Our lives become a beautiful path that points back to the one who put us here when we allow Him to use our joys & our sorrows for His glory.

Shortly before His death Jesus uttered the words, "I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this life you will have trouble, but do not fear for I have overcome the world."- (John 16:33) We were never promised a life free of trouble. In fact, we were warned of the trouble that would come. Our Lord did not promise to "spare" us from trouble. Instead He overcame the world so that we could spend an eternity in His presence. No matter what we face in this life we can "bank" on Christ. Eternal life is coming! 

Today I get to celebrate earthly success. I attribute the success of my treatment at this current time to the God who created my body. I am so thankful for less painful days & I will continue to pray for full-healing. Yet if that does not come I have an immense amount of peace knowing that my God can & will sustain me through any trial. The battle belongs to the Lord!

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run & not grow weary, they will walk & not faint."- Isaiah 40:31 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Watching on the sidelines

Four years ago this week I began an internship at Contact. While I was not new to Contact, I was new to being employed there. I can clearly remember my first day. I stood in the doorway of Ron Babbit's office & assured him that while I was interning for the summer I was not 'repenting' & would not be continuing at Contact further. By the end of the summer I wanted a permanent position. While I thought I knew what God had in mind for my ministry in the future, I had no idea of the changes he would make in my heart during just a few short months.

During that summer I was able to reconnect with a family that we had worked with when Contact first started back in 2002. Two of the boys had been in the very first Bible class I was able to teach at the ripe, old age of twelve. The boys were only four & five at the time. They are now fourteen & fifteen years old.  During my time at Contact that summer I was able to get to know this family again & was able to begin forming relationships with the younger siblings. 

As the years have continued on, my family has continued to be a heavy presence in the lives of this family. Unfortunately two years ago they moved into one of the worst apartment complexes in Tulsa. The apartment is referred to as "little Vietnam" because so many shootings take place there every week. In fact, any time I have mentioned that this is a complex I work in I've been told not to go there. Furthermore, this family has told me not to be there. One day we were taking home the kids and the six year old said, "Miss Kayla, this place is ghetto!! Why do you hang out here?" We pulled up to her apartment & I said, "Do you see that apartment number? I love eight people that live in that apartment & that's why I come here. I don't care where you live! I will continue to come see you because I love YOU always, & forever, & no matter what!"

So many times in this ministry I have been told to quit. This ministry is too hard! Little results come from years & years of work ... The critics of Contact are exactly right!... This ministry is HARD! It HURTS sometimes! BUT I am a christian who is tired of watching on the sidelines & pretending that is ministry. The worst apartment complexes in Tulsa are exactly where I should be hanging out. Jesus did not walk around in the good parts of town. He went to raise Lazarus from the dead when his disciples were warning that he would be killed also. He had no concern for himself, but rather for others. Real ministry is not about yourself... Contact isn't about me & how good I feel. Nor should it be! If my Lord & savior was given a crown of thorns, I cannot expect a bed of roses.

Currently I am walking through the hardest time I have faced in ministry thus far. A boy that I met 10 years ago has allowed gang activity to take over his heart & his life. His choices are destructive & have endangered others, his family, & himself. The news is devastating. I have fought for this young man over & over again & yet tonight I sit here at a loss. A loss for what to do next, a loss for what I should have done different & a loss of how to develop a more effective ministry? However, I also sit here knowing that I cannot change personal choice. I can only continue to love in spite of. I have always told the kids I will love them always, forever, & no matter what... Now I get to walk out the 'no matter what' part. 

Deciding whether to sit on the sidelines or continue on in this ministry all depends on how I decide to view this situation. I can either look back & realize that everyone was right. This family was doomed to fail & I should have quit a long time ago. Or I can look back & realize that fighting for them was the right thing to do. I can look back with no regrets & realize that God planted seeds. They may not be ready to receive them yet, but the seeds were planted. My God doesn't waste time! Not a second that I spent in the last ten years with this family was wasted. God has worked in me, through me, & in spite of me to bring about his purposes.

Therefore, I will continue to fight for souls every day of my life! I was asked a few months back what Curtis & I were gonna do when one of the kids we love grows up & makes the wrong choices? Today I have the answer to that question... We are going to continue to do what we have always done. We are going to continue to love even when it is not necessarily deserved, because we both realize that we do not deserve the love God has shown us. We realize that sitting on the sidelines does not win souls & we refuse to QUIT! 

While I do not have the answers as to why some kids Contact works with would choose the path of the Lord & others would choose a path of destruction, I know that the answer to ministry is always to love with the love of Christ. We don't need the answers... we simply need to remain in HIM. Tulsa is not unreachable! There is no such thing as a lost cause in the sight of God! Therefore, Curtis, myself, & my family choose to see opportunity in destruction & hope in darkness. Our hearts hurt, but our commitment is strong & our Lord's love is unfailing.

Always... Forever... And No matter What....

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me & I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
-John 15:5