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Friday, August 26, 2011

Thanksgiving All Year: 11-20

Today I am thankful...

11. For my missionary friend Lisa and her frequent updates about what God is doing in Candelaria, Nicaragua -- especially on days when I feel trapped in my own head. Her updates draw my mind back to a global, Kingdom perspective and make my own circumstances seem much less critical and overwhelming.

12. For my friend Ashley's willingness to distract me with random fun activities during difficult times.

13. That God is in the business of redeeming, restoring, refreshing, renewing, and rebuilding things that are damaged or broken.

14. For the Perspectives class that just started this past Monday night and for having a group of friends, old and new, with whom to study and share the experience.

U-Swirl with Jess, Adrienne, and Ash
after our first Perspectives class

15. That God speaks to us through His Word, His Spirit, and other Believers.

16. That God has spoken to ME this week through all of the above.

17. For a good night's sleep last night (7 hours) for what seems like the first time in weeks.

18. For God's unconditional, unchanging love that remains no matter how lousy MY attitude or actions may sometimes be.

19. For HOPE.

20. For Mumford & Sons' song "The Cave," which, to me, seems to emanate hope both lyrically and musically.
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

(Just for the record, I don't really get this video at all, but I kinda like it anyway!)

Week 1 of being 30 has been challenging, and I definitely hope not all of the next 51 weeks are as tough... But even in the tough times God is good and I have plenty to be thankful for!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When In Doubt, Ask For Directions

I've recently been experiencing a lot of uncertainty and turmoil in a specific area of my life and I've been asking God for some clarity & direction. I wholeheartedly believe He has answered my prayers during my time with Him the past two mornings. However, I've found that He's not giving me the whole map but rather what I need to know for today. That's not a new concept to me... He generally only gives us enough light to see the next step so that we'll keep walking with Him instead of taking off on our own. But as He does so often, He's taken an old concept and breathed new life into it for the here & now.

I thought I'd share some of the words He's used to direct me over the past couple of days. Perhaps they just might shed a little light on someone else's path, too.

And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned... 
Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved." Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it fall away...
The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape; but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.
Acts 27:20, 31-32, 42-44
 Direction #1: Stay with the ship.

"Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34

"It is the unwritten chapter of our lives which distresses most of us. Jesus gives us the key:  let tomorrow take care of itself; live today to the full... [W]hat we do today will be inseparably related to what can happen tomorrow. We can have something to say about what will happen by how we handle what's happening. Jesus' advice is that there is sufficient opportunity today to see His power at work over evil. Concentrate on that, and tomorrow will be a succeeding opportunity...
"Most of us get so tomorrow-oriented that we do not enjoy the present moment. We are preoccupied by what is coming, and we fail to experience what is. We press on in preparation as if some new plan, relationship, or opportunity will make everything different. We endure what is now upon us with the hope that things will be different. It is good to plan but not to the point that we miss what God is saying in the difficult or unpleasant thing we may now be living through. The seeds of tomorrow's harvest are today. How we cultivate them will determine what we reap."
-Lloyd John Ogilvie
Direction #2:  Do not worry about tomorrow. Live today to the full.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear... We love, because He first loved us.
1 John 4:18a, 19

1. God is perfect love. 1 John 4:18
2. Nothing can separate me from God's perfect love. Romans 8:38-39
3. God pours His perfect love into my imperfect heart. Romans 5:5
4. Accessed, I can love anyone through anything. Philippians 4:13
(from Beth Moore's "Loving Well" conference)
Direction #3:  Allow My love to fill you up and be poured out through you regardless of the circumstances.

On my way to work I passed a truck whose license plate read LIV4TDY. I don't think that was a coincidence. I am listening, Lord, and I choose to press on, to avoid worrying about the future, to live fully for this day, and to LOVE unconditionally. Help me to walk in the way You've directed.

The impossible is possible
But your fear is so responsible
For keeping you down
Keeping you down

Your unreachable is reachable
But you'll never grab
The wonderful
with your feet on the ground
Your feet on the ground

If you fall on your face
Don't just leave it to fate
No such thing as too late
It's not too late...

You only fail
If you never try
You'll never live
Tryin' not to die
I'm telling you now, I'm telling you now

Don't ever stop,
Give all you've got
Don't hesitate, to take a shot
It all comes around, it all comes around...

There's so much, so much left to gain
There's so much, so much to lose
You'll never know until know until you make a move...

-The Afters

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Always Enough

Our youth group is coming home from Santa Cruz today, and this weekend I have been thinking about how God was speaking to my heart last year during the trip. It had been a really hard summer for me. I pulled out my booklet from the weekend to re-read the thoughts I had journaled, and I remember as I was sitting on the beach writing the first entry I had a Casting Crowns song running through my mind that says:
Your love is peace to the broken
Faith for the widow, hope for the orphan, strength for the weak
Your love is the anthem of nations, rings out through the ages
And You're always enough for m
I've decided that just like "Waiting On The Lord" is a lesson we never really finish learning in this life, so is "God Is Always Enough." Both these lessons just take different shapes in different seasons of our lives, but they are recurring themes that we never quite master. I was really wrestling with "God Is Always Enough" last year while we were in Santa Cruz. It's been good to be reminded of how He was working in my heart through that time...

So often lately I have just been met with the feeling of being so lost... [H]onestly sometimes my heart just feels so confused and unsure of anything. The basics are solid. You, God, are there. You are good. You are working things according to Your plan and You will be glorified. Maybe in trying to figure out where my longings play into all this is where I've gotten lost. Because ultimately, it doesn't matter. You give us desires and You bless us, sometimes by fulfilling those desires, but what happens when You choose to bring Yourself glory by allowing our desires to go unmet and instead displaying that You are enough... Are You enough, Lord? I honestly don't know if I can say yes to that. I know it's true but I'm not sure if I believe it... Help me to believe it, Lord. Please let me come away from this weekend with that belief, or at least the beginnings of it.

Do I see You as... just something to bring me momentary comfort while I wait for what I really want? Just something to make me feel better while I pass the time when the one I really want to be with is preoccupied? God, I don't want You to be my back-up plan. I want You to be my priority, with or without the other things I want. Help me come to love and appreciate and enjoy You -- of Your own accord... I don't want to just bide my time with You. I want to embrace it with joy and find fulfillment in it -- not just for now, but for always. Maybe THIS is the heart of my problem, and till now I've just been treating the symptoms instead of the source... Give me surgery, God, not a bandaid...

Father God, it is so strange to be sitting here on this same coast [as] a year ago... Soooo much has happened since then... And yet I see the waves crashing and the sun setting; I feel the breeze blowing; I hear the ocean roaring... This has not changed at all. In this moment, it reminds me that You are constant and reliable through whatever changes and trials I face. Being back here and having made it through almost the whole weekend feels like healing. Not total healing, but a definite step in that direction. I know challenges still lie ahead of me, but I pray I can look back on this moment and remember Your faithfulness -- that some things -- or, rather, that ONE thing -- will never change no matter how crazy or out of control life seems to get. Thank You for bringing me back here, Lord. Please God, help me continue to move forward finding my joy and happiness in YOU -- in the ONE who always is happy to be with me -- far above any other person or situation. Please help me to see You as the love of my life.

The Lord sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 145:14-21

Amen. Thank You...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Celebration of 30 Years - A Photo Blog

A week ago today I celebrated my 30th birthday with some of my dearest friends & family up at Lake Tahoe.

North Tahoe Beach - photo courtesy Cassidy
Jake, Ashley, Erin, Jessie, & me - photo courtesy Cassidy

I tried to incorporate a lot of bright colors into our menu to go along with the whole kaleidoscope theme that's been on my mind lately. (I even gave out small kaleidoscope keychains as favors!) We had chicken tenders from WalMart and grilled hot dogs (not so heavy on the color in those two items), a rainbow fruit tray (inspired by a pin I saw on Pinterest), Mexican dip (in a dish I bought IN Mexico), homemade brownies (lacking color there, too), and a giant homemade chocolate chip/M&M cookie! My dessert plates and Sesame Street napkins (perfect for a 30th birthday, right?!) were colorful, too!
photo courtesy Cassidy
photo courtesy Cassidy

Chow Time!
photo courtesy Cassidy
photo courtesy Cassidy

We weren't going to bother with candles since we didn't have a cake, but Erin brought some --
not having any idea about my many-colored theme -- that were PERFECT!!
Cookie Monster looks pretty stoked about that giant cookie!!

 After eating we played a lot of volleyball -- which prompted a lot of laughter.
Good form for a pregnant girl!!
my team's poses - photo courtesy Cassidy

After it got dark we gathered together and spent some time in worship! When I was considering what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, I thought about how one of my favorite things in the world is sitting on the beach in Santa Cruz with our youth group singing praise songs to God. There is nothing like being in the midst of His glorious creation with my brothers & sisters in Christ singing along to "How Great Is Our God" or "Captivated." I decided there was no way I'd rather spend my 30th birthday celebration.
"Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God..." Psalm 147:7

Before everyone left, I naturally requested that Cassidy get one of our traditional self-portrait group shots.
It usually take a few tries but he's really gotten pretty great at it!
I have no idea what Jake is doing...

Along with the kaleidoscope key chains I also gave everyone a photo collage in a magnetic frame as a favor.
They're all a little bit of me...

We took a couple of final pictures before heading home.
my wonderful family
Jessie, Alex, me, Ben, & Jake - photo courtesy Cassidy

It was such a great evening. I am so thankful for these people God has put in my life. They've been there for me through so many ups and downs and we've shared so, so many great memories over the past couple years. I am so blessed and I am so thankful.
Thanks to everyone who came and shared in my celebration. I love you all!
L to R: Mom, Dad, Krystal, Mike, Jessie, Rebecca, Erin, Judy, me, Jon, Dana, Ashley, Ben, Alex, Cassidy, & Jake in front

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thanksgiving All Year: 1-10

Two of my dear friends and fellow bloggers have incorporated a practice of giving thanks weekly through 10-item lists on their blogs. (Beth is at 370 and Carrie is currently up to 530!) I love lists, both reading them and making them, so these entries are some of my favorites to read, and I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps of gratitude when I started my blog!

Today I am thankful...

1. For my birthday celebration last Saturday at Lake Tahoe! (Its own post is in the works.)

Celebrating my 30th Birthday at North Tahoe Beach! There are no words to express how much I LOVE these people!!!
L to R: Mom, Dad, Krystal, Mike, Jessie, Rebecca, Erin, Judy, me, Jon, Dana, Ashley, Ben, Alex, Cassidy, & Jake in front
2. For finding a note from Jessie on my car window this morning.

3. For rediscovering the fantastic song Farmer Hoggett sings while randomly watching the second half of "Babe" last night with Jessie, Ben, and TJ. (TOTALLY reminded me of Beth!)
If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a morning golden and true
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moonshine
4. For Mimi's Cafe's Trio Appetizer:  spinach artichoke dip, fried zucchini, and chicken tenders that are so good on their own I can't even bring myself to dip them in sauce. It's a running joke in my family that when I'm asked where we should eat, "Mimi's!" is going to be my answer. My parents took me for my birthday last night and we shared this appetizer. Oh. Yum.

5. For the 31 people in our church family who are each praying for 1-6 of the people on our youth group's Santa Cruz trip this weekend BY NAME. Every single youth and shepherd is being prayed for specifically by two people!

6. For Peet's Coffee's Chocolate & Caramel Swirl Blended Freddo. Tried it for the first time yesterday. Best coffee drink I've ever had.

7. For a video message from Krystal of her, Judy, Jake, Tristan, and Maddy rocking out to "Never Gonna Give You Up" and wishing me a Happy Birthday on their way to Santa Cruz yesterday.

8. For unexpected financial provision that will enable me to take the Perspectives class this fall.

9. That God knows what's going to happen and that He works ALL THINGS together for my good and His glory.

10. For being reminded of the blessings God has given me, especially through the people in my life, on a day when I'm feeling blah and discouraged. Lord, please constantly shift my focus back to You and Your goodness.

When the Feeling Is Gone...

When the feeling is gone
At the breaking of dawn
I will never look back
With the wind at my back
Don't give up on us now
Don't give up on us now

Discovered this song watching Chuck. The youtube video I linked to is kind of a random montage of scenes but it'll do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"We're all a little bit of you."

our matching bracelets
In 2008 when we revived our youth group's annual camping trip to Santa Cruz, all the girls in my tent decided to buy matching bracelets at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk -- you know, the beachy souvenir kind that come in several different colors. After each of my girls picked their favorite single-colored bracelet, I chose one that was multi-colored. One of the girls (my dear friend Jessie) proclaimed, "We're all a little bit of you!" Haha! I actually loved that concept, and it is one that has been on my mind a whole lot this past week...

(L to R) Megan, Jesse, Mackie, TJ, Jake, Ben, me, Judy, Jessie,
& Ashley at the Century Sparks Theater after seeing "Ponyo"

I came across the picture to the right a few days ago and it suddenly dawned on me that I've had pretty much the same core group of friends for two whole years now. This picture was taken on August 18 (my birthday!), 2009, and at that time it was an extremely random gathering of people... It was one of the first times I had hung out with about half of these people outside of youth group activities; yet in the months that followed most of them became my "regular crowd." Over the past two years we have shared movie & game nights, taken road trips, been to concerts, seen movies in the theater, worshiped, prayed, attended each other's performances, celebrated birthdays, served our community, LAUGHED, occasionally cried, fought, made up, and ultimately grown together. I have come to LOVE and CHERISH these friends so very much that I'm in awe when I look at this picture and think that I barely knew some of them when it was taken!!

Jesse (left) in his "punk" days...
Granted he WAS helping Cassidy & me
move out of our apartment in this picture!
I gotta give him credit for that! =)

Tonight I attended a going-away party for one of these treasured friends. Jesse is moving to Vacaville tomorrow to participate in a ministry internship. When I very first met Jesse, he was, in my opinion, a little punk kid in our youth group who had long hair and an attitude with which none of us youth leaders knew what to do -- definitely not someone around whom I cared to spend a lot of time. (Sorry, Jesse!)

I'm not sure when or how it happened but somewhere along the way God captured this young man's heart and began a transformation in his life I never would have imagined in those early days. (Shame on me, perhaps, for having so little faith in our God's power to change lives!) I never would have expected to see him not just playing drums or guitar but actually leading worship with a sincere heart. I never would have expected to hear about him making bold claims of faith in front of his classmates. And I never, NEVER would have imagined him becoming one of my closest friends...

I am glad God chooses to surprise us.  =)

Jesse & me at the youth group's
Birthday Party for Jesus in December
Now don't get me wrong, Jesse is not perfect, just as I am not perfect and you are not perfect. But God has definitely done a number on this guy!! Tonight as I reflected on the transformation I've been so blessed to witness over these past several years in Jesse's life, I shed some tears and felt completely humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. It would have been marvelous enough to have watched God change his life from a distance as a youth leader; it is even more marvelous to have seen & heard what God was doing in his life up close & personally as his friend. I have been SO sad this week thinking of him leaving Reno and not being around for movie nights, etc. anymore. But I am thrilled knowing God has his heart and is leading Jesse in this new direction because He has more good work to do in his life.

Tomorrow I am celebrating my birthday a few days early with some of my dearest friends, and I regret that Jesse won't be there to celebrate with us. In a few weeks, Jake will be gone as well, attending school in Oregon, and thus another member of my core group of friends will be gone. I'm recognizing a certain season of my life is coming to a close. It is so bittersweet. I know we will all remain friends, and it's not like anyone is moving to Abu Dhabi... We will all still be within a decent road trip's distance from each other! But the fact of the matter is it will probably never again be like it has been for these past two years. While my heart grieves that loss I am also grateful that God leads us to new places and into new seasons as we follow Him. Each season has its own blessings (and, of course, its own challenges). But we can't stay where we are now forever!

Jesse, Alex, me, Ben, & Jake at Senior Recognition Night
These are four SPECIAL guys, let me tell you!
I'm thankful Ben & Alex aren't going anywhere!
I look back over the past two years and thank God for putting these special people in my life for this season -- "for such a time as this." Some of them will continue to play central roles in my life for more seasons to come (and I am so glad for that!), and God will also bring new people into my life in as seasons continue to change; but for those in this core group of friends that has meant so much to me for the past two years who may no longer be playing as central a role in my story, let me say this:  You are not simply people with whom I will look back and remember sharing some fun times. You are key characters in my life's story who have made a lasting impression on me. To borrow what Jessie said about my multi-colored bracelet three years ago, "you are all a little bit of me!" I love you all and you will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's With the Kaleidoscope?

noun /kəˈlīdəˌskōp/ 
  1. A toy consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass or paper, whose reflections produce changing patterns that are visible through an eyehole when the tube is rotated

  2. A constantly changing pattern or sequence of objects or elements
a kaleidoscopic view
I think one of the biggest challenges of starting a blog is coming up with a title for it. I was trying to think of an interesting word that begins with the letter "K" to pair with my name, and somehow I came up with "kaleidoscope." (However, I thought "Kaysi's Kaleidoscope" sounded silly so I opted to stick with my "K" word but come up with a different title.)

Bright colors... Reflections... Ever-changing patterns & designs... I love so many things about the kaleidoscope. It's like life, comprised of countless varied elements that constantly shift & change before our eyes yet somehow always exhibit beauty. That's the kind of blog I want to write. My hope is to take any part of my life -- be it an old memory or a new recipe or what I did last night or a Scripture I read this morning or that topic I just can't get out of my head -- and to reflect on & discover & share the beauty in it. Thanks for reading along!