the house of God, isn’t a house at all.

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I’m curious as to how many of us have a church checklist.

“Do they have good music there?”

“Are the lighting cues matching up to my expectations?”

“Do they use the latest fonts on their programs and websites?”

“Will they provide coffee for me? I hope they have Arabica coffee.”

“Do they serve communion during service?”

“Do they have life groups with people my age?”

 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I shared in this checklist firsthand. I desired to bring friends to our church for an experience. An experience of neat music, hip barn wood walls, and well dressed attendees.

 

And now I just need to repent, dear Lord, for trying to ever put you in a box.

Forgive me for not wanting to bring people to church for YOU and you alone.

 

Our God is not bound by the walls we create for a physical “church”. He is just as much with our brothers and sisters that are having church under tents in Africa without coffee, or in a hut in South America without banjos, or in the hot desert of Afghanistan without fancy art on walls. He is THERE guys. His church is present when two or more are gathered. His love spans all generations, socioeconomic statuses, cultures, and races. While great lighting, good music (I love some great worship music!), and awesome fonts are wonderful and creative, and the Lord placed a talent in certain people for them to utilize, these things are still not the heart of church. A church can exist without them. I pray that our hearts not be set in a building but in Christ and His people, His church, His bride. I pray that He builds His house in our hearts and relationships with His sons and daughters. I pray that when we bring people that don’t know Christ that we simply bring them to church so that they may enter into a relationship with Him.

 

“24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” -Acts 17:24-27

 

*Just wanted to give a shout out to our church leadership for recently teaching us this.

just do it.

 

photo(1)There are two phrases that we tend to use when people are facing trials or uncharted seasons of life.
I’m guilty of using it as well.
And I hope that I stop.

“I’ll pray for you.”
&
“Let me know how I can help.”

These are not entirely bad things to say. In fact, the heart behind it is good. But they are void phrases if not carried out.

1.
Stating that you will pray for someone does not let them know if you have actually prayed for them. We need to actually get on our knees and talk to The Lord. We need to hold their hands and pray over them. Or call them and pray over them. Or email our prayer over their lives to them. Or simply text them and say something along the lines of, “Just prayed for strength and endurance for you through this time.”
You know what they need prayer for.
We just need to stop saying we will pray without doing it.

2.
Put yourself in these shoes for a moment. Let’s say you are a wife and mom to two children, ages 2 and 4. Suddenly, your husband passes away and you are left to navigate the waters of losing your best friend and being a single mother while dealing with tantrums and wet bed sheets.

You have friends telling you, “Let me know if I can do anything.”
Do you really want to ask them, “Um, can you come wash pee off my child’s sheets?”

While it’s good for us to ask for help sometimes, it’s difficult for us to even see our own needs during life changing events.

Wouldn’t you rather be the friend that knocks on the door, sends your friend to her bedroom so she can process and cry, wipes down counters, feeds the kids, does dishes, washes that pee sheet, prays over the kids, prays over your friend, hugs your friend, serves, serves, and serves.

And of course every situation is different. Every need is different. Which is why we need to pray that we are cognizant of the needs of those around us.

I just pray that we be a people that wisely use the words God has gifted us with. I pray that we are in tune with where God is calling us to serve and that He reveals to us the needs that we can meet.

1 John 3:18
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

teach and be taught.

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It’s incredibly easy for pride to consume a heart. We often think we know it all. We think completing grade school or college is when learning from a teacher comes to an abrupt halt. Sometimes our pride hinders us from being humble and allowing someone else to teach us. I’m talking mainly women teaching women here. We falsely believe that we are in a competition with women and that asking for help makes us appear weaker and less successful. 

Let me interject with a scripture.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” -Titus 2:3-5

The Lord places such a high value on being taught by other women that love Him. We should be seeking out women that sharpen us and point us towards the Lord.

Another prime example of this teaching is the story of Naomi and Ruth. Ruth vows to follow Naomi and learn from her. Naomi provides advice for Ruth and she follows the advice of her mother-in-law. 

When you are new to marriage, a job, motherhood, faith, singleness, or any other season of life, wouldn’t you rather have someone who has walked through it give you advice and point you toward Christ in that moment?

The way I see it is you have two options:

Spend longer amounts of time trying to figure it out all by yourself. No one to cry to. No one to understand you. No one.

or

CALL UP A WOMAN GOD HAS GIFTED WITH THAT EXPERIENCE TO HELP A SISTA OUT! He beautifully let women walk through seasons of life so that we can be a community of ladies that share and pass down wisdom and feel your pain because they have been in those trenches and now they want to go with you. Share your struggles in marriage, share your method of soothing a baby with a fever, share how you study scripture, share your heart when you become a widow, share how you fold fitted sheets (no seriously, I need this information stat), share Jesus with each other!

 
I, for one, am thrilled to have women in different roles walk before me and invite me into what it is like to be a business woman, a momma, a widow, a wife, a friend, and a daughter of God. I hunger for your teachings!

unadulterated beauty.

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:: My nose is crooked ::

:: I have a little cellulite on my thighs ::

:: My smile just isn’t that pretty ::

:: She’s prettier than me ::  

Lately, I have been hearing these demeaning phrases. I have been speaking these demeaning phrases about myself. Our culture has made this mold of the “perfect woman” and shoved it down our throats. And here we are, buying in. The only type of women we perceive as beautiful is a photoshopped 5’11 model with a thigh gap. WHAT?! That is crazy talk. Is there some kind of chart that I’m not aware of that lists each woman in order from prettiest to not-so-prettiest? We are constantly lied to and then we lie to ourselves!

Then I started thinking, where does The Lord play into all of this. Let’s look at what HE says about our beauty. First off, listen to how David describes the creativity of God in the way He created David in Psalms 139 (I know it’s written on every baby nursery wall, but it’s applicable to adults as well). “For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalms 139 Can we be more like David and say, “I praise you God, for you created me to be completely unique and beautiful!” Are we not belittling God when we belittle ourselves? We are saying, what God has created is not enough.

Stop believing the lies that the enemy is trying to feed you. Believe what God says about you. Go confidently knowing that He created you simply to be His beautiful daughter. Be a witness to those around you who see you stand boldly in your identity and beauty that lie in Christ alone. 

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”   

Y’all, I’m not saying to go and eat burgers galore, gain an unreasonable amount of weight, never shave your legs, and say “Jesus thinks I’m beautiful.” God calls our bodies temples and we are called to take care of them to the best of our knowledge and ability. Living a healthy lifestyle is GOOD and glorifies God.

But still know that you will have wrinkles, you will have things start sagging, you will have a crooked nose, and you will still and always be beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. Walk in the beauty He has gifted you. We are frail, fragile, beautiful, and closer to glory each day.   :: I am confident in who The Lord created me to be. Unlike any other.

 :: My smile was intricately designed just for me. ::

:: I am a daughter of the great King ::

:: I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. ::

the search in the dark.

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I think so many of us struggle with identity. We are constantly reaching around in front of us in the dark. We desire to grasp onto anything that will give us a sense of what our identity should lie in. Maybe my identity lies in my job? The clothes I wear? My dreams and passions? My creativity? How many friends I possess? We search and search with no light in front of us.

Then a voice cries out,

“Have you forgotten, dear child, that I AM THE LIGHT! I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” john 12:46

Jobs, friends, and dreams are good things. They are blessings from God. But our identity cannot lie in them because they are ultimately fleeting.

We need to ask for the light. We need to be so content when things in this world fade away. Spoiler Alert They will all fade away.

…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Phillipians 4:11

the science of secrets.

I remember signing up for my first Seventeen Magazine subscription.
Upon opening my first “adult” magazine, I began being spoon fed celebrity gossip. I felt incredibly cool at school when I could tell you who Britney Spears was dating, how ugly Drew Barrymore’s dress was, and what skin-care products Jennifer Anniston used.

The spoon feeding became a full on appetite.
People around me became subjects of a horrid spider web of gossip.
I was trapped and entangled inside of it.
I am grateful that The Lord has intervened in my life since then and shown me just how destructive gossip can be.
Gossip still exists among Christians.
Gossip is a really sneaky tool the enemy uses. It’s so easy to let things slip out of our mouths without meditating on what we are about to say. Rude, hurtful things about others that do not build anyone up.

When we gossip, we try to make less of others so we can make more of ourselves. But the reality of it is, we make less of others, ourselves, and God.

No one wins when we gossip except the enemy.

Let’s quit feeding gossip!
Let’s build up people with our words instead of tearing them down.

Proverbs 31:26
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 20:19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

the paradox of doubt.

We have faith in God.
And yet, we sometimes doubt Him.

We want physical evidence of The Ark of the Covenant.
We want to see the remains of Noah’s Ark.
We want scientific proof of everything in the Bible.
We want Him to answer prayers the way we want them answered.

We desire the tangible.

We want to see Him, hear Him, and touch Him.

But only through faith is He tangible.

How can I doubt when I see the darkness He pulled me out of?
How can I doubt when I DO see Him answer prayers?
How can I doubt when I see good and evil at work in this world?
How can I doubt when He heals people, visits people in dreams, keeps His promises, saves people from the muck and the mire, LOVES people, speaks to people, weeps with people, and extends the beautiful gifts of forgiveness and mercy to people?

I cannot doubt.

I refuse for any evolutionist to tell me that I am simply mass made up of cells with no purpose.

I. Have. Purpose.

My purpose is to live fiercely for the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

I will have faith in that which I cannot see.

2 Corinthians 4:18
…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The enemy will sneak in doubt every now and then but I am the daughter of a God who will lovingly lead me back to His truths. A God who will graciously walk alongside me in my faith and not by my sight.

stretch marks.

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A letter to my future self:

Kendra,
Do you remember that feeling? When you held that pregnancy test in your hands? For five long minutes you felt utterly afraid that you might be informed that you hold human life inside of you. You and your husband were not ready for this. And yet, when you read the negative result you sobbed. You sobbed because you were worried. What if you were unable to have children? What if you could never be exhausted at night because your newborn was crying? What if you never had sippy cups lying around the house or stretch marks? No nurseries, no strollers, no bath time. What if you had to hold back tears every time you pass baby clothes in Target?
You were worried.

I’m writing to you so you remember. I do not know whether you will ever have stretch marks or not. I pray you do. I pray every night that you do.
But if you don’t, I pray that you remember who your God is. He is the God of Hannah and Sarah who had broken hearts because they could not have stretch marks for a while. He is the God that we put all our hope in. He is the God that has a beautiful plan that we cannot even comprehend! He is for us. He is the God that cries with us in our pain and affliction. He is with us.

I’m writing to you so you remember. If you do get those stretch marks, remember those around you who cannot. Remember that they share in those tears that you once cried. Hug them. Cry with them. Pray with them. Remember the orphans who are praying for a mother like you. You can be a mother with or without stretch marks.

I ultimately hope that your heart is where the real stretch marks are. I pray your heart is filled to the brim with trust and contentment in The Lord. I pray He stretches and molds you. I pray that you remember that you are HIS child and He loves you. He is good and He loves you.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

i’m not on the pursuit of happiness. [but i'll still blast your song in the car, Kid Cudi].

I am not on the pursuit of happiness simply because it is fleeting. I am aware that happiness exists and I feel this emotion quite often. It’s a great feeling. But it is fleeting.

You cannot tell me that when I lose a parent or a spouse that I will be happy. You cannot tell me that when I lose my job that I will be happy.
You cannot tell me that if I have a miscarriage that I will be happy.

I can’t pursue it. I refuse to.

Let me provide you with a minuscule statistic. The word happy is found (on my ESV bible app) in the Bible 8 times.
8
Out of how many words? A lot.

Let me point you to another word that I am fervently in pursuit of.
Joy.
Which shows up 179 times + rejoice 156 times which = 335 times? I’ll have some of that, please!
Let’s take a gander, shall we?

James 1:2
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…

Romans 5:3
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…

You can have joy while you are suffering.
You can have joy while you are happy!
You can have joy while you are in a state of melancholy.
You can have joy while you are apathetic.
You can have joy while you are experiencing the loss of a loved one.
You can have joy while you eat the best macaroni and cheese you’ve ever had.

Joy can run concurrently with the emotions we have been gifted.

Joy is a contentment in fully trusting The Lord.
Whether you are in a season of suffering or happiness, you can have joy in knowing The Lord is good and sovereign.

I’m on the pursuit of God because He pursues me and woos me by offering me joy!

colorblind.

I am the child of parents affected by racial wars.
I have a mother who could not ride in the same train car as my father.
I have a father who could not be seen holding the soft hands of the woman he loved in public.
I have beautifully mixed blood as a product of their love.
While my parents were not in the thick of the racial wars in America, they are incredibly familiar with Apartheid.

Today I stumbled upon the LIFE Magazine archives of photographs of the Ku Klux Klan and I felt compelled to write.

The tears will not cease.

How can ANY race ever believe they are superior to another?
How can any race worship the same God and not worship together?
How can any race not look into the eyes of another that GOD Himself knit together and see that a heart and soul lie behind them?

Laws make us equals.
But some hearts still view themselves as higher.

How can anyone profess the name of Jesus and still hold hate and resentment in their hearts towards the beautiful souls he created?

Lord, make us colorblind!
Let us celebrate uniqueness of skin but never discriminate.
Let us only see each other as brothers and sisters in your name.

I urge you all
to
remove the
white gown
with cut out holes
&
pointed hat
Off. Of. Your.
HEART.

1 John 2:9
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

Romans 2:11
For God shows no partiality.

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