How You Doin'?



I'm gonna be honest with you. Recently, I've been kinda busy and stressed out. I've caught myself numerous times thinking something like, ugh, can't wait to finish this or I just wanna be done and take a nap. It's been a week. Actually, it's been a few weeks. But when people come up to me and ask me, "How are you?" I've actually replied, "Good!" I'm not the type of person who likes hearing that response from people. It's sooo generic, and half of the time (let's be real) people are literally lying to us and giving us their default response. I hate that. However...this week, as friends were asking me how I was doing, it was actually kinda weird. Maybe this is the extrovert, energized-by-people part of me, but I think it's the Lord's faithfulness: every time someone's asked me that, I've felt good, and I could genuinely tell them so without lying through my teeth. I told my friend just this weekend, "You know, I should be telling you how stressed out I've been, because honestly, between school and having houseguests who generated negativity and stress, I didn't feel good. But if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that perspective matters. So I've been looking at every situation as, how is God growing me? What is He trying to teach me here? and that has completely changed me. I'm just so much happier and so content!" 

This mindset didn't come to me automatically; it came over the course of a 4-5 year period; one of the hardest I've gone through so far. (See: YOUR PAIN IS NOT POINTLESS.) Instead of dwelling on my emotions or wallowing in an endless hole of self-pity...ew, don't wanna ever intentionally do that again...I'm learning to let go of my circumstances and fix my eyes on Jesus. See, that is the secret to contentment. Take the well-known story of Peter walking on water. He started off, probably smiling, when he took those first steps on the waves, lookin at Jesus. But then, when Peter took his eyes off Jesus, he began to fall into the waves. By focusing on his circumstances, which were unpleasant, he was invoked to fear and he promptly began to sink. But Jesus offered His hand to Peter and rebuked him, saying, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14:31 ESV). Here's the thing: our circumstances will pretty much never be absolutely perfect. We live in a fallen world; therefore nothing is perfect. People, circumstances, nature...none of that is perfect. If we focus on our problems, we will eventually be filled with fear. However, when we choose to intentionally focus on Jesus rather than the surrounding problems, we can be filled with joy. Because He is perfect, we can be wholly satisfied in Him. Now, that doesn't mean we have perfect faith; we don't. But by choosing, again and again, to turn back to Him when we stumble and fall, there will always be a hand waiting for you to pick you up and guide you back on the right path. It takes intentionality and it's a choice you have to make every day, every hour, every minute - because the devil sure ain't gonna leave you alone if you're focusing on God. He's gonna try, EVERY CHANCE HE CAN, to distract you and tear you out of peace and security [God]. The devil wants nothing more than to get your attention off Jesus and onto your problems. He loves fear. He loves peeling you away from the truth. Therefore, be on your guard and surround yourself with truth more than problems. You know that song Surrounded? It goes something like this:
It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You / It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You / It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You / It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You / This is how I fight my battles
Note how many times it repeats that line, and that's only one of the many repeated verses! When we immerse ourselves in something, repeating it and hammering it into our brains, it's harder for it to escape. What is something that's been heavily on your mind lately? The stress of school? Family problems? A break up? What to wear at church? How you're gonna cram for the exam tomorrow?

How are you doing? Like really. Are you anxious? I'd encourage you to figure out the root of that and try your best to lift your focus off that and shift your gaze UP to God. This morning, God gave me this visual of a house. First, it was a straight-on view of the front of it, with all the lights lit up through the windows. Then the view backed up and then became and aerial of the top of the house, so that all I could see was the roof. Sometimes we are so focused on the surface level matters, or matters that will at least pass in time, that we forget to look up and remember what's protecting us from all those problems - God. He is the roof to our house, representing our lives. We want to seem put together or we want things to just go well. And there's nothing wrong with that at all! I hate when things fall apart. But ultimately, when that happens, we just have to commit to remembering that God is still in control and that everything is under control. Even when it's not! I find so much comfort and peace that God has this intricate plan and that SOMEHOW He's able to use even the bad things for my good. Sooo when bad things happen and you're just plain STRESSED OUT and you want to just be done with life, friend, lemme tell you: surround yourself with truth; THE Truth. Take a break and pray, read the Bible, listen to worship music or a sermon and just refresh yourself. If we're always go-go-go, we'll definitely burn out. I know I do and have to remember to rest (blog post on that coming soon!). When stress hits, our natural instinct is to focus on that and either try to fix it or stress about it. But if we take a step back - go for that aerial view - and look up at Jesus, we see His hand reaching out to us to pick us up out of those waves. He's got it. And He's got you.

How you doin? Are you stuck on the ground, falling with your problems into fear, or are you looking up and striving to see from God's view? You must be intentional if you want to be happy in life. Choose Jesus and there will be joy even among the waves. Joy comes from peace, and peace from trusting the Lord. He has a plan and He is faithful to complete it in His timing. 

Release [poem]



My first poem I've published on my blog...?! Kinda scary because one, this is super personal and two, I don't write poems that much. But from what I've been learning from just simply being more open on like Instagram about my insecurities, it encourages a lot of people. Not because of ME but because of the One who lives in me. HE is the One that is transforming my brokenness into a woman made whole, despite what she's gone through and the messes she's made. So yeah. Here's to me being brave and bold lol and God doing great things through it. I'm just His instrument. I don't really want attention or comments; I just want Him to be glorified and for someone to be lifted by my story, which is ultimately HIS Story. Anyways, I hope you'll be able to relate in one way or another and be comforted in knowing that you are indeed not alone in whatever you are going through. Here's Release.


Pain
Rain
Regret washes over me
Run
Hide
Lock
Cry
Despair washes over me
Heave
Hard
Overwhelm
Knocked to knees
Kneel down
Cry
Plead
Stop
Please
Where is the end?
When will the pain leave?
How will this heal?
When will this fear flee?
Try to get up
Fall down again
Try to speak up
Shut down once again
Key in lock
Sob
Protest
Assurance—
Safe
Cry of relief
Get back up
Stand
Breathe
Rain
Falls down my face
The heaves continue
Continue their pace
No turning back
Stay
Release


In
Out
Breathe that air
In
Out
Heaves cease
In
Out
Despair tumbling
In
Out
Rain from my eyes sting
Roll
Down
It will be all right
Deep
Breath
Real embrace
Smile a little
Comfort
Erase
Let it flow
Down
Out
Let it go
Time
Out
Finally heard
Time
Slows
Finally free
Time to cry
Finally safe
Time to be held
It’s time to breathe
It’s time to release


Hold on to hope
Hold on to love
His promises
Are forever enough
This time is hard
The past is rough
But by God’s grace
He is enough
Truth will set
Set you free
But when,
I wonder,
Will it set me free?


Healing will come
God promises that
On earth or in heaven
One day
It will last
But
For now
In this world of pain
Look to His promise
And be released from the rain


Pain
Rain
Peace washes over me
Cling to hope
Releaseー
Please breathe
It will be okay
Just wait
You’ll see


The past is no more
You are here
The rain is no more
Joy is near


dedicated to my sister. thank you for making me feel free enough to release, for praying for me and diligently seeking the Lord in this situation and so much more. you are my warrior, baby doll!

YOUR PAIN IS NOT POINTLESS.



YOUR PAIN IS NOT POINTLESS. 

Have you ever wondered why you’ve been stuck in a situation for so long? Maybe you felt alone, depressed or unloved. You’re not the only one.

About five years ago, when I was 12, I went through a heck of a lot of changes. My best friend moved, my church split and we switched homeschool groups. In the middle of all that, I lost a lot of friends due to them either moving, switching churches or losing touch. It was hard.

For four years, I silently suffered.
Wondering why I felt so alone.
Wishing for another best friend.
Waiting for more girls my age to join our support group or church.

And yet…that never happened. Not for a while. I cried so often that it became a part of me. I got used to the pain. I’d cry at my desk when I was by myself but I didn’t let anyone hear me. Many pages in my journal were filled with things like “I feel so alone,” “I wish I didn’t hide it but I’m scared”, and “I’m crying as I write this.”

Maybe this is somewhat familiar to you. I don't know what you've gone through, but maybe you've experienced loneliness or depression before. Maybe you've been waiting for a good group of friends, and you don't fit in with anyone yet. I wait and wondered and wished for so long. I was unhappy when all I was surrounded with was younger kids and people who were different than me. There were lots of dinner parties at our house that I’d leave to go behind a closed door. It hurt that all we seemed to invite were families with kids who weren’t my age, weren’t like me, and didn’t make an effort to talk to me. My life became a pity party. Crying. Dreading. Constantly feeling alone. On the outside I held up fine, but when I was alone, I fell into that depression over and over again. I still struggle with this sometimes, but I’ve realized all that was NOT pointless. 

See, last year, I came to realize that through all that? God was trying to teach me something. But I was so stuck in my feelings and self-pity that I couldn’t see it. I missed it. So I think He let me continue through until I got it. God taught me that I should be content in everything and that my sisters were really and truly my best friends. He transformed my mindset and I now understand that I was so self-focused that I had an attitude of entitlement. Waiting on them to come to me. Waiting for them to talk to me. Waiting for them to stop excluding me. I see now how much time I wasted just wishing. God didn't give us all this time to sit around and mope! He wants us and empowers us to take action! If only I had seen that then and had taken the courage to help myself. But I was stuck, oh so stuck, in this cookie-cutter-mindset of good friends would come and talk to me that I missed out on conversations that might have blessed be. 

While yes, I do have a little bit of regret about that, I mostly look back at that period of my life as a growth season. Despite the many tears, the wishful thinking, the lack of action and the daily cries to God, I learned so much. I was stretched emotionally and spiritually, but now, I have so much more wisdom and peace because of it. My pain was not painless, and God was not deaf to my cries. Throughout this all, I just grew closer and closer to God, and I quickly realized that He was and is the only perfect One who can be my forever peace and comfort. But that doesn't mean you don't need people, too! God created us to be in relationships and brings us so much joy through it. However, sometimes, we have an ideal in our heads or we just can't find a good group, and that can tear you apart if you let it.

Another lesson I learned is that you don’t always need to have friends who are exactly the same as you. In fact, my group of friends now aren’t exactly like me or my age, but they love Jesus and each other. I’ve come to realize that being joyful in life is NOT dependent on whether or not I have people I like surrounding me. It is based on where your heart is (am I focused on Christ or my circumstances?), being grateful for everything and staying content in what’s in front of you. Please know that if you’re in a similar place right now, this isn’t the end. There IS a reason for your suffering and it is for a good purpose. In my case, it was and still is to teach me to be content and praise God in everything. And if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m just a DM away! :) 

God’s plan…πŸ˜‰πŸŽΆ It is GOOD and it has an amazing purpose for your life. You may not know what it is, but one day, God willing, you’ll be able to look back and smile at the journey and progress you’ve made. My pain was not pointless, and yours isn't either. No matter what the devil is trying to lie to you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, my friend! There is hope in front of you! πŸŒˆ


What your Father says about loneliness and tough seasons:

Hebrews 13:5
Be content with what you have, for [God] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Courage That Encourages



You ever heard of the phrase "the gift that keeps on giving?" Courage is like that, too. See, when you take a step of courage, often there are others watching; others you had no idea were even watching you. For example, at my youth group one night, we had a worship night, and they were encouraging us to pour ourselves out all the way. The lights were dim, the music was playing and a few students were starting to kneel. I’d been wanting to kneel for so long...not just that night, but before that, too. I just hadn’t “felt” it before. But this night - oh, I wanted to kneel so bad, but I was scared. Kinda dumb, I told myself, because worship isn’t even about me...I started going through all the reasons I was feeding myself from the devil and contradicted every one. Most of them were silly, like the fear of what others would think. But then I chided myself that this would be celebrated, not looked down upon. More people fell to their knees. Still, I fought within myself. If those people in front of me kneel…

The boy in front of me fell to his knees; a middle schooler who was pouring out himself to the Lord. Seeing him, at his age, humbly sink to the floor, I lost it. I fell onto my knees and oh how good it felt to surrender. This boy’s courage to obey and honor God had encouraged me. And he has no idea.

That was the first time I ever kneeled in front of other people. Now, I have this hidden pocket of respect for this boy, and I will always remember how he encouraged me, without even knowing.

You can do this, too. Maybe you already have. But just remember - there are people watching you; people you don’t even realize. They are watching your actions, some even scared and looking for a leader to follow. Just like me. Little ol’ me needed that leader, and he came in the form of a young 8th grade boy who probably doesn’t even know my name.

Courage isn’t always doing something in the spotlight. Sometimes, it’s doing it behind the scenes or in the quiet. Courage is taking a step of faith or doing something despite the fears. I don’t know what went through the boy’s head but I do know what went through mine and I certainly had my share of fears.

Doing it scared is hard. But if God calls, you should definitely obey! A few weeks ago, I stood up in front of my whole church to answer the altar call of leading a dGroup (discipleship group). I knew that if I didn’t stand up and listen to the Holy Spirit’s push, I would regret it so much, so I just let go and obeyed God. I was so scared yet so relieved. I knew there would be accountability, yet I had the comfort that this was indeed God’s calling and purpose for me. God equips those He calls. He doesn’t call the equipped, or else no one would be called. But when the Lord calls you, He will be right by your side. Do it scared. Because ultimately, you are not alone or a wimp or whatever the devil is trying to lie to your brain. You are courageous. And somewhere, someone is being encouraged by your example to also obey the Lord and step out by faith.

You don’t have to be a preacher or a singer on the radio or an Instagram influencer to encourage others. Start by listening for the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice, and obeying Him. You’d be surprised how far that can take you, because He’s not gonna always let you play hopscotch; He’s gonna push you to hike up a mountain sometimes. As you are stretched in obeying despite hard circumstances, remember that it is ok to take a break sometimes. Remember how far you’ve come! Sometimes it’s good to encourage ourselves and remind yourself how God has transformed and matured you.

Have you ever noticed that the word encouragement contains the word courage inside it? It’s because one’s words or actions can spark courage. Be a courage sparker, not a courage drainer. You, my friend, have the power to empower by encouraging others to have courage. πŸ˜‰ It only takes a spark to light a fire. So you might as well do it for the glory of God. πŸ”₯

I'M BACK. / looking back at God's faithfulness


Hi, friends.

I have no idea who's still subscribed to my blog, so thanks to those of you who've hung with me and waited on me! It's been a good year since I posted but I keep finding myself posting uber long "captions" on my Instagram posts (more like mini rants/mini blog posts) so I figured I might as well post the full lengths here and not have to worry about people not wanting to read my long Instagram posts. πŸ˜‚

2018 was a good year, not an easy one. There was a lot of learning and growth and trials but still more faithfulness from my amazing God. Everyday I am more amazed in His goodness and grace. Everyday, I mess up and disobey God, both unintentionally and intentionally. Still, my God is as welcoming as ever and shows me His great love by giving me a second chance...then a third...then another, and another.

Last year, I realized a lot of things about myself; things that ultimately, God revealed to me. He shifted my perspective on myself, and now I realize way way more than before how beautiful and valued and wanted I am. He also revealed to me His voice and a specific, special way of hearing Him: by Bible references. Not ones I know, but seemingly random references that forced me to look them up and also pushed me to begin my daily Bible readings in the morning again.

I realized how important communication is in relationships and that the people around you are just as broken as you are. We all need grace and respect and love.

Above all the relationships, drama and busyness, one thing has remained the same for me and that is my confidence in Christ. He is forever my lover, my friend, my comforter, healer and savior and I owe every coming day to Him.

Here's to the rest of 2019. Let's keep striving to live intentionally with purpose!

Music Monday - "The Darkness" by Built By Titan ft. Svrcina



I'M LITERALLY OBSESSED WITH THIS SONG. The last time I posted for Music Monday was a loooong time ago (sorry!) but here we go! Hopefully I won't be as bad with posting as last year. πŸ™ˆ

Like I've said before, finding a great contemporary song while being God-honoring is sometimes hard to find, so when I stumbled upon this song, I was stoked. Songs in the electronic/dance genres are especially hard to find. I've honestly never heard of Built By Titan or Svrcina. I literally found this song from googling "Christian EDM songs." Honestly, most of those results are usually not contemporary enough or too same-ol' sounding during the entire song, but I found this gem and I ended up buying it the next day. 

I gotta admit, when I first listened to the chorus, I was like, what in the world is this song about? Is this actually a Christian song? When listening to it in the car for the first time with the family, my mom was, like, "Ummm...what is this song about?"

In the darkness/In the darkness/I will find You/In the darkness

It sounded like a dark song so to speak...pun unintended. Then I realized that it's about going through dark valleys in life but still seeing the Light through it all; a theme I love.

When you go through dark stages in life, do you seek the Light or do you just wallow away?

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Eph 5:8).

If you're going through a dark valley right now, pray this verse:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps 27:1) 

Remember,

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:5).

This stage in life will pass in time, but for now, hold on to - seek - cling - to the Light; Jesus. Just because we live in a world and culture that loves darkness, doesn't mean we should act like them. We are a chosen people! No, being different isn't easy, but it beats being in the darkness all the time.

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness (1 Thes 5:5). 
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:13). 

Friends, I hope you will not just enjoy this song for it's sound but savor the words and really think about what you do in the darkness. Do you seek Light?

INTENTIONAL LIVING - It's a Choice.



Would you rather float down a lazy river or swim across the ocean? That's an easy question for me; I'd pick lazy river nearly every time. I love the relaxation and ease. You don't have to really worry about where you're floating; the jet streams do that for you. You get to kick back and relax. Swimming the ocean, however, is vastly different and way more difficult. You actually have to make decisions. You are the one that has to take control, or else the ocean will control you. At the beginning of this year, I was thinking about what I wanted to focus on this year. A few years ago, I'd done the one word challenge, and I knew I wanted to do it again this year.

I chose Intentional as my word of 2018. Intentional means "done with intention or on purpose; intended," according to dictionary.com. I want to choose God first in every circumstance. I want to choose to be joyful despite my emotions. I want to choose to love even when that other person isn't loving me back. I want to choose to be like Jesus. I want to choose life, not death. I want to choose to speak life to everyone. I want to choose to be FEARLESS and FREE and STRONG.

I've finally chosen a tagline for The SoCal Gal: "Intentionally living with purpose." As Christians, in our walk with God, we must choose our daily decisions. Everything we do affects something. Did you thank the last person who gave something to you? That could leave her grateful and happy for your courtesy and thankfulness. Did you yell at your little brother when he was annoying you? That could leave bitterness and make your relationship drift.

Being intentional means making choices with a specific reason in mind. One thing I would like to work on doing more intentionally is praying and reading my Bible more. I would like to exercise more self-control and gratefulness as well. It's so easy to slack off and forget to pray because "I'm so tired" or not have my devotion in the morning because "I don't have time" or give in and say yes to a bad choice because "What's one more time?"

Being intentional means saying no to ungodliness and conforming to the world. This is one problem in life that's really hit me this past year: how many Christians conform to the world. It might not always seem obvious, but doing anything that tolerates sin even a little is wrong. This could be spending time with the wrong crowd, lying, believing anything against the Bible, making social media your number one or making fun of the president.

Being intentional means knowing your purpose. What is your purpose on earth? Are you living that out, or is that "purpose" just a cover-up for what you really stand for?

In the next few posts, we'll be covering these three topics. I'm so excited for this new series! This week, I challenge you to:

  • Examine your heart and ask yourself what purpose you are living for
    • Is that the purpose you want it to have?
    • What's something you can change to make your purpose + actions coherent?
  • Pray for intentional living
    • In your life
    • In your family
    • In your friends
  • Choose to do, say and think things with purpose
    • Know the impact these actions have and use them for His glory!
  • Ask yourself if the current is guiding you, or are you guiding the current
    • Current = the world's ways
    • You can either go with the flow or go against the flow

Music Monday - "Real Love" by Hillsong Young & Free

Merry Christmas, friends! Today I want to share a song with you. It's not a Christmas song, however, it does describe what Christmas is centered around - Jesus' real, perfect love for us. Hope you enjoy this song, and savor it's meaning. 


REAL LOVE IS WORTH DYING FOR.
REAL LOVE LASTS FOREVER.
REAL LOVE IS JESUS.

In our day and age, love is being sold for getting whatever you want, fulfilling your happiness and everything. This is true, but it's unattainable by anyone other than Jesus. Why? Because people are sinful. They can still love, but they don't have perfect love. Their emotions often sway their so-called love, and dash it to pieces. Real love does not forsake. Real love does not die. Real love does not hide. 1 John 3:16 (NLT) says,

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Jesus is the perfect example of real love because He really was perfect. Experiencing this radical love can happen and has happened with millions of people. It's supernatural.

Are you experiencing real love?

12 Days of Christmas 2017 - Day 12: Christ at the Center

Merry Christmas, lovelies!

I'm sure you've heard it many times, but in "Christmas" is the word "Christ." Christmas. Christ is at the center of this holiday, and no matter how much this culture tries to deny that, whether by saying some other greeting without His name in it, or insisting this holiday is just about giving or love, it all comes back to Christ.

No matter how much the world tries, it can't get rid of Christ. Especially not at Christmas.

Some people say Christmas is all about love. Well, it is! It's about God showing us His perfect love though Jesus, and then Jesus showing us His perfect love to God and also to us by obeying His Father.

Others saying Christmas is about giving. God gave Jesus to us and we celebrate His earthly birth. That is why we give gifts at Christmas - to remember the ultimate gift God gave to us.

See, even though people try to take away Christ from Christmas, they still grab parts of the truth and part of His actions. Just as Christ is at the center of "Merry Christmas," so should Christ be in the center of your heart - this year and always.

Quick shoutout to my amazing guest writers, Drew, Emma, Gabriel Brown, Gloria Kluth and Leanne Zuiderveen. Couldn't have done this series without you guys, so thank you for all the time and effort you threw into your beautiful posts. You. Are. Awesome!

Lastly, thank YOU, my readers, for sticking around and reading my blog. Hope you have a fabulous holiday celebrating the birth of our amazing Savior. May God bless you with the incredible joy that comes with knowing the truth about Christ - His perfect love, example and sacrifice given to us so we could become sons of God. Merry Christmas.

~ Kaitlyn