when you can’t see the end

It’s easy to trust in something when you can foresee an end result.

I trust in your diet because I’ve seen great weight loss results.

I trust in your teaching because people have passed your class.

But sometimes…it’s hard to trust in God.

To outsiders looking in, we are crazy – how can we place our lives into the hands of a Being that is seemingly non-existent in a hopeless world?

Where is God in the midst of such rampant Evil?

Where is He in situations filled with single mothers and absent fathers, poverty and homelessness, anxiety and depression?

My Teaching Social Studies class was recently given an Autobiography assignment. Each of us were asked to write a 2 – 5 page paper about events in our lives that have shaped our personalities, faith, and world views. On Tuesday night, we presented our papers along with Powerpoint slides and baby pictures.

Some of us had happy childhoods, others did not. Some grew up believing in God from an early age, while others were self-proclaimed “Baby Christians.” It was such an eye-opening experience to hear each and every story, and I understand my classmates a little bit better because of it.

Despite our differences, there was something that rang true in every story; whatever trials we have gone through, God always had a greater plan.

As I finished reading through Genesis a few days ago, Joseph is reunited with his brothers, and demonstrates such forgiveness towards the men that had so selfishly betrayed him.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  (Genesis 50:20) 

It’s easy to place blame on God for things like unexpected death, financial struggle, and social ridicule, when in reality, He is intending our hardships for our good, but more importantly … for the good of others. It is of course not His desire or ultimate plan for us to suffer, but to demonstrate that through it allHe is there.

And because of this, we will overcome.

Difficulties have a way of bringing isolation; you become engulfed in a problem so deeply that it is often hard to see an end. Days seem like weeks, weeks as months. Every passing moment is a struggle, and it is easier to become a Netflix-Binging Hermit than to face the outside world and pretend that everything is okay.

No one understands, so I must walk through this alone.

How wrong this is.

What was intended to harm, many times becomes the most powerful testimony of God’s grace and strength.

My dad took off during my Sophomore Year of college, and we didn’t know if we would ever see him again…but God…

I remember not wanting to share my story with anyone. I was an RA that year, and I struggled with discipling the girls on my floor, and dealing with this issue that proved too great for me to fix.

But if I had reached out to other girls, and became transparent to those around me, maybe my semester would have been different.

Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone, and maybe, just maybeI could have encouraged someone else through my situation.

We must:

–  share in one another’s sufferings

– embrace the truth that transparency does not equate to weakness

and

– believe that trials are not God’s way of punishing us for past sin, and walk in the freedom and hope that we have received eternal life and sanctification through Him

Most of all, we must trust that through it all, God is sovereign, and has greater things in store than what meets our human (and very limited) eyes.

I suppose it all comes back to that important detail of complete obedience in His word, and trusting that because God loved us so much and sent His son to die for our wretched sin, He will also be faithful to bring us through to the end of whatever we might be facing.

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peru peru peru

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It’s official!

I am so excited to announce that this coming March, Caleb and I will be leading a team to minister to the people of Peru!

While we are still in the very beginning stages of planning the trip, we should have a team assembled by mid – end October, and I can begin to share more specific prayer needs in the next few months.

As of right now, I would ask you to do a few things:

1. Pray: pray for the trip, for our future team, and for me, as I interview people and make important decisions about who will go with us. (Have I mentioned that I hate making decisions?) Also, pray for the finances of the trip, and pray about possibly giving as well. 🙂

2. Stop by I Am Kelly for updates on how the trip is coming along … the team will create a separate blog account to update friends and family while on the trip, but I plan on posting updates here too.

3. Appreciate this llama picture.

A Tiny Traveler

I know, I know…. I’ve been slacking on my posts.

No need to remind me as I am currently trying to stay awake without caffeine & editing a paper I wrote at midnight.

I did, however, find the time to write a guest post over at A Tiny Traveler about my time in South Korea! 🙂

There are friendships that just come naturally. Conversation comes easy, and each and every time you meet you discover how very similar you both are.

This is Natalie.

I am so thankful that I was able to contribute a post to her wonderful blog, and that I have gained a friend not only in the blogging world, but right here in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Go check it out!

-Kelly

obedience

Something that has been on my heart for the past few weeks is the idea of obedience.

 I grew up hearing about “following God’s Will for your life,” which is obviously incredibly important, but as a teen, “God’s Will” somehow became an unattainable and unrecognizable thing.

How am I supposed to know what it is?

 I was given the same advice that I received when I asked, “How do you know when you’re in love?” 

“When you know, you know.” 

Such simple advice, however, did not sit well. I didn’t want to “just know.” I felt like this was a cop-out in a way….anything could be the will of God if I really wanted it to be.

And then I realized that it’s all about obedience.

I recently started a plan to read through the entire Bible in 3 months. Three. Months. Looking back on my decision three days ago, I feel faint… but I’m beginning to read the Bible in a new light. The plan begins at The Beginning; Genesis 1:1. We read about God’s tender hand forming the Earth out of nothingness, and man out of its dust. Adam names all of the animals (can you say, ‘best job ever?’), and God is pleased. He provides Adam with a helpmate, Eve, and they are given free reign of the Garden – with one tiny exception.

We know the story: they disobey God, their eyes are opened & experience shame, and in the end are forced out of the Garden because of their sin.

Obedience is everything.

Obedience brings:

– joy

– provision

– blessing

Ruth is a prime example of this. Through her obedience, not only does Boaz protect and provide for her, but becomes her kinsman-redeemer and the family line is continued – all the way to King David, and eventually to Jesus. Naomi’s joy was restored simply because Ruth followed and obeyed her leading, and even more-so when Ruth and Boaz have a son.

Obedience brings:

– acceptance

– protection

In Genesis 4:6, the Lord says to Cain: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 

Despite this warning, Cain disobeys the Word of the Lord and kills his brother Abel.

In the end, “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod (v.16).”  When we are obedient, we are protected from the pain and loneliness of sin. The Enemy desires to destroy us, but obedience to the Lord protects us and gives us new life!

Just the same, obedience brings acceptance. “Nod” means “wandering” – Cain became a wanderer… and left the presence of the Lord. 

There is something so scary about this picture: because of his sin and disobedience Cain no longer felt welcome in the presence of the Lord – so he left. Thankfully for us, Jesus died for our sins and we can freely meet with the Him…but I never want to feel the weight of sin so strongly that I feel unwelcome in His presence!

Finally, Obedience brings:

– fulfilled promises

– increased faith

In Genesis 12, we read about the call of Abram. God says:

 Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram left, as the Lord had told him.

Later on, Abram (now Abraham) is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Once again, he is obedient, and as he is about to take the obedience plunge, the Lord provides a sacrificial ram in Isaac’s place. The Lord says to Abraham:

…because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. 

I cannot begin to imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind as he traveled to sacrifice his one and only son. However, Abraham was obedient, and through this obedience, he knew God had a greater plan than his own human mind could comprehend. When we are obedient, we are able to rest in knowing that through us, and even through our trials, God will be glorified.

When I think about these Bible characters, I am in awe of how brave they were.  In order to be obedient to the call of God on their lives, they had to have a certain level of bravery to face whatever came their way. They had to be brave enough to admit that while things might not be easy, God was in complete control.

Bree over at The Imperfect Vessel is doing a book study on Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (go sign up for the study right now). Because I was so excited about the study, I started reading ahead. I found that being brave and fulfilling the dreams God has given us requires total surrender to His plan.

“When God tells you to be brave, He will make it work. It won’t be easy. It won’t be perfect. But it will be your story and your best story.” (Annie F. Downs)

Sometimes being brave means sacrificing what we love most, or leaving our families behind to pursue a specific ministry or job opportunity. It might mean cutting ties with a boyfriend, or speaking the truth with the potential of being shunned or “un-friended.”

And sometimes, being brave means giving up what we think is the best, even when we can’t see that God is really offering us so much more.

What is God asking you to do today?

Virtual Blog Tour: My Writing Process

writing proces

Thanks to The Peony Project, I have met so many new bloggers, and have been able to branch out through link-ups and a few guest posts. I cannot begin to stress how much I love the sense of community that I have gained, and the friendships that have formed because of it!

I was tagged by Jessica from Seeking Individuality to participate in this virtual blog tour, where bloggers are able to share just a little bit about what makes their writing unique, and how they go about writing what they do!

Let me share my own personal writing process:

1. What am I working on?:

 I have had a few blogs in the past; one dedicated to a three-month-long missions trip to Peru, another was started through Blogger but quickly deleted because I couldn’t decide on a theme (Hello,Queen of Indecision speaking), and a third is a blog I keep on tumblr. Last year I decided that I needed to start writing more consistently, so that’s what I did. Right now, I am working on expanding my reader-base, and trying to figure out exactly where I fit in the blogging world. I also have dreams of one day writing a book (Annie F. Downs would be so proud of me for being brave and writing down this dream).  Don’t ask me what it’s about…it’s still more of a passing thought rather than a substantial idea.

Offline, I am currently focused on finishing my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education, planning a missions trip that will take place over Spring Break, and also planning a trip with my parents to Europe for next June. Not to mention, trying my best to be patient and refraining from applying for overseas teaching jobs.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

To be honest? I don’t really know. I hope that somehow, my writing style and voice stands out above the rest. Recently I have read so many different blogs….most of them being more encouraging, creative, and professional-looking than I think I will ever be. I often feel like I am completely lost when it comes to taking my blog seriously & to the next level. However, I take pride in what I write, and how I write it. Everything that is posted on my blog is from the deepest parts of my heart, and I strive to be sincere and relatable in every post. I want to tell a story, and I want to tell it well.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write about my life as a student & a wife because it is a way for me to reflect on and understand my own personal feelings. Over the years, I’ve come to the realization that I struggle with verbal communication. Please don’t ask me to give an impromptu speech, or play Taboo (or any other timed game). I don’t like talking on the phone, and I usually lose arguments.

However, give me a pen…or a keyboard, and I am ready to go. I love writing letters. I love editing papers to make them more concise and grammatically friendly. I write because it gives me insight into how I feel about what is going on my life, and how I want to make it better. I write because I want others to realize they are not the only ones that struggle with ____whatever____, and that there is hope and a comedic twist to almost every situation. (I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t laugh at myself)

I also started this blog because my mom told me to. (Kidding)

4. How does your writing process work?

Most of my writing is done:

– in the early morning

– late into the night

– while drinking coffee (extra cream, extra extra sugar)

I thrive on deadlines, and usually wait until the last minute to write a conclusion.

I am always on the lookout for new blog topics and ideas, and find inspiration in books, quotes, and yes, even pictures on tumblr. Most of all, my inspiration comes from my time with Jesus. I’ve learned over the past few years that I really am nothing without Him; I’m not as creative, or inspiring, or even that great of a writer. But when Jesus inspires a post, oh, it just seems to be a million times greater.

 I was never comfortable with using graphic organizers, and made my sixth grade teacher angry because I refused to brainstorm. My writing process is a spur of the moment type of process, although I can spend hours rewriting one simple sentence….which is usually the sentence that I delete seconds after clicking “publish.”

You can also find a little green, polka dotted notebook in whatever bag I choose to take with me that day. It is filled with blog ideas, drawings & doodles, and very, very rough drafts. I recently started using the owl journal seen above, and I use it to write down my prayers and thoughts on my Bible reading.

Finally, check these ladies out & read more about their thoughts on the blogging/writing process: 

Ashley from Forever AshleyAshley encourages her readers to “Be Forever You”; embracing who you are and never apologizing for the person God has created you to be. What a great reminder!

Britt from Yellow UmbrellaBritt’s blog is a lifestyle blog about design, color, fashion, and random moments. She is so creative and inspirational. 

Katie from Hot Tea and the Empty SeatKatie’s blog is similar to my own, and writes about her life as a wife and follower of Jesus. You can sense her beautiful heart all over every post! 

The Imperfect Vessel

Today I was given the chance to guest post for The Imperfect Vessel Blog, and decided to share a little bit of my testimony. It wasn’t easy at first, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to write it down and share it with the blog world.

Bree does an incredible job at providing encouraging & refreshing posts for tired souls, and I am honored to be her very first guest blogger!

Go check it out! 🙂

like a child

three little peppers

This past April my in-laws came to visit and helped us plant tomatoes, herbs, flowers, and peppers.

We planted some of the tomatoes, the basil, and peppers in a Topsy Turvy, and the rest of our tomatoes were planted in one big flower pot.

The basil died pretty quickly due to intense rainstorms, and the flowers bloomed right away but died a few weeks later because the planters were too small. The tomatoes grew strong, and after two months had passed we picked our very first Cherry & Roma.

tomato

Until about two weeks ago, I had lost hope in our peppers (I don’t even remember what kind we planted). Green leaves shot straight up from the Topsy Turvy, but there were no blossoms or fruit. I’m not sure if this is because we didn’t plant them in the right kind of container, or if they just take extra long to grow, but nothing seemed to be happening. I gave up, and almost took the leaves out of the planter.

But then Caleb and I looked up at those leaves way up in the sky & saw a little pepper growing….today there were three! 

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset 

(The third pepper is hiding in the very top right corner)

Sometimes I expect myself to grow and mature at the same rate as others; and vice versa. I so often compare myself and my triumphs to those of other people I work and go to school with.

“I’m not as creative, or secure in myself as ____(enter name)____, so I should probably just give up now.”

I’ve been in college longer than my other friends, and they already have jobs in their fields.

I haven’t been on as many missions trips as they have, so I won’t be as great of a missions trip leader.

I’m still growing, but everyone else is ready to be picked.

In the end, I stunt my own personal growth by thinking this way.

 If I try and throw myself into something before I’m ready, or before God has planned, I will be a burden rather than a blessing. “Get rich quick” schemes never work, and shortcuts usually end in twisted ankles, and sore muscles (just ask my mom 😉 ). And sometimes, it takes being in a dark place to grow to your greatest potential and discover your deepest strengths.

I don’t ever want to be that pot filled with soil and overgrown flowers-turned-weeds, but rather a perfectly ripened tomato, or a sweet green pepper.

So remember dear one: your time is coming.

Don’t question your purpose because you haven’t bloomed.