Honesty

The Dichotomy of Love

683 1024 Lauren Kennedy

Love is the most beautiful gift in the world and is in itself a depth that feels impossible to describe in words, yet it simultaneously seems to bring a heavy heart. Let me explain because I don’t want this to sound like a negative perspective, but more one of reality + one I have been navigating the last four years. To illustrate, by far one of the greatest blessings in my life is my husband. We share such a tightly-bound, inseparable bond full of passion, lots of special memories, constant laughs, and mutual willingness to compromise because our sincere goal is to love each other better every day.

To take a step back, I grew up in Dallas, am super close to my family (my mom and my twin sister are my besties, and same with my dad!), and I experienced one of the greatest seasons of loss in that city, which connected me to it (aka the people) in a way where it will always feel extra safe and like home. When Jase and I met, he was living in Los Angeles and has now been here for nearly 14 years, so, as many of you know, I moved out of Texas to start a life with my best friend. Hence the dichotomy begins; I experienced such heartbreak to leave everything that was comfort, yet I was so incredibly excited to live in the same city as Jason!

He and I are both so thankful for this big move because my struggle of adjusting to a new atmosphere became his struggle too; he has been by my side wholeheartedly through it all, and we attribute this time to how deeply well we know each other. He is always there to cry with me and validates the grief of being unable to pop by my parent’s or sister’s house at any time. It developed in me such a lasting trust that he can comfort me like the people I am closest to can.

The things that create such a rich love almost always seem to come from sacrifice and hardship, whether big or small. For instance, leaving Dallas or saying goodbye to my family when they visit hurts my heart at such a deep level, yet there is gratefulness amidst the pain because it only strengthens our marriage + it makes me extra grateful for every memory and moment with my family. Not to mention, leaving Jase to see my family hurts my heart just the same. It’s such a complicated emotional pull, but one that causes me to be filled with thankfulness for all of the love that causes such intense emotion. Am I making sense? Does anyone relate to this feeling?

This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series. Be sure and check out the other ladies in this wonderful group, such as Kat Harris with The Refined Woman and Jackie Viramontez.

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The Beautiful Blessing Of Trust

1024 683 Melissa Mayer

The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends it’s roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when it heat comes, and it’s foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit. -Jeremiah 17:7-8 (CSB)

What a beautiful picture this verse paints for us: a strong tree with deep roots nourished by water, flourishing with vibrant foliage, stable in security amidst periods of drought, and fruitful no matter what might come. Scripture tells us that the person who trusts in the Lord is blessed, as blessed as the tree described here. The person who trusts in the Lord will be strong, secure, vibrant, nourished, and fruitful because he is rooted in trust and confidence in the Lord.

This does not mean that we won’t face trials (those periods of extreme heat or tough droughts), but more incredibly it means that even during the trials, trust in our Lord will allow us to continue to grow and thrive in our hope, dependence, and confidence in Him. When we partner with our great God through trust, blessings come and He enables us to be fearless and free of worry as we grow and strengthen like a strong, healthy tree by the water.

How incredible is that? I cannot imagine a promise more beautiful. God is so good to His children, promising such a fruitful future for those who trust in Him completely and make Him their confidence.

images by Felicia Lasala 

Five Questions With Christine Caine

578 560 Melissa Mayer

We are beyond excited to have Christine Caine on the blog today. We recently spoke about her book Unexpected on LSK in this post, so it is a major blessing to be featuring five questions with Christine Caine today on the blog. Christine is not just a woman of faith, but she is a woman who is fervently pursuing the life in which the Lord has called her to live as an activist, author, and international speaker. If you attended or watched IF Gathering this past February, you know what I am talking about! Her passion for spreading the Gospel and loving God with all of your heart and mind is truly inspiring. Read the Q&A below to learn more from Christine and definitely read her book!

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-Your newest book, Unexpected, has spoken to our to hearts so deeply. What initially prompted you to write about stories of the unexpected happening in peoples lives?

When I first sat down to start writing Unexpected, it was actually headed in a very different direction. But as 2016 rolled on at the time, I saw how shaken our world was by unexpected tragedies and events. Then, the unexpected hit my own life in a whole new way. I share in the book that I stepped off of a boat where I was celebrating my 50th birthday with 150 of my closest friends to discover several missed phone calls and texts from my brother telling me my mother had passed away. That experience of feeling whiplashed by pain in a moment of such joy really defined a new direction for the book.

The result is what I would say is the most personal book Ive written. God took me through my own wilderness season in writing the book. And because of that I think the stories are more than just stories, theyre testimonies of His steady faithfulness even in the most unexpected of circumstances.

-Your vulnerability and the vulnerability of the people you feature in Unexpected is undeniable throughout the book. What is your prayer for opening up in this way?

My prayer is that we will all become prisoners of hope. That we will develop the emotional and spiritual muscles needed to overcome fear with faith. That doesnt mean we deny the reality of pain in our world, but it does mean that we arent defined by it and dont define our lives by it.

-A chapter from your book speaks to the feeling of being in the wilderness and how God works in us during these times to prepare us for the Promised Land in our lives. If you could summarize that amazing chapter into one piece of advice for how to navigate the wilderness seasons we face, what would it be? 

When you find yourself in the wilderness, make Gods promises bigger than your disappointment and heartache. If you give up on His promises, you will give in to disillusionment, cynicism, and bitterness, and you will lose heart.

Our disappointment and heartache threaten to derail us every day. They can so easily distract us and shift our focus from Gods power at work in our lives to their destruction in our lives. What we chose to do with that disappointment and heartache will determine our destiny. Take hold of the promise that Gods power is bigger than any disappointment or heartache. And remember that the wilderness is a place to pass through, not a place to stay and set up camp.

-God is using you in such an incredible, bold, impactful way. You write in the book that you got where you are now by taking the long way and not being tempted to take a shortcut in the past- even if you might not have been where you expected to be by that time. When it comes to patience and trusting that the Lords steps are the right steps for us, what is your biggest piece of advice for readers? 

Put your trust in Gods plan into practice by embracing the place you are in today with passion and faithfulness. Focus more on becoming the person God designed you to be than on doing the things God designed you to do. He cares most about our hearts and souls, we should too. Remember that the long way around is where we build the muscles – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually – that are required for the next step in our journey.

-You reference Scripture often in your book to support the stories that you share. Can you share with us now a passage from the Bible that you hold on closely to when facing unexpected times in life? 

One of my favorite Scriptures of all is Ephesians 3:20 which says, Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.Those words give me so much hope in the unexpected times because it reminds me that following Gods plan instead of my own is a grand adventure that will far exceed my dreams in the end no matter how rough and painful it may get in the middle.


feature image via Christine Caine’s Instagram // second image via IF Gathering’s Instagram 

When In The Wilderness

1024 683 Melissa Mayer

Let us first start out by saying that Christine Caine’s newest book, Unexpected, is the inspiration for this post and a must-read for all. It is so gripping in the most God-loving, life-changing way! It is a book that you won’t easily be able to put down because it is full of words and truths that your heart and mind thirst for and will soak right up.

There was one chapter that especially rocked my world titled “When the Unexpected Disheartens.” In this chapter, Christine shares a friend’s story of experiencing a season of incredible growth due to a period of being in the wilderness. I think we can all relate to seasons of life spent in the wilderness; these seasons are scary and they are unexpected. However, as Christine shares, it is often the wilderness when and where God works big-time, and when and where we really grow, bloom, and flourish into the people we were created by Him to be.

On page 128, Christine writes: “We all have wilderness seasons in our lives, times when everything that feels familiar, stable, and comforting falls away. But that’s exactly why the wilderness is a place of transformation. With nothing to distract us from ourselves, and with no one but God to rely on, the conditions are ripe for growth and change. If we embrace the wilderness wholeheartedly, it becomes a place in which we are freed from our bondage to fear, insecurity, and disappointment.”- Christine Caine, Unexpected 

Thinking of the wilderness as “a place of transformation” turns the wilderness into a hopeful place instead of a fearful one. It is not always easy to see that in the thick of it, but if we can keep moving forward with our eyes fixated on God and trust that he is at work in us in the wilderness, we will grow through it victoriously. As Christine says, the wilderness can ultimately lead to freedom if we let God work in us completely and if we embrace the process fully. I love picturing the Lord literally carrying us through wilderness seasons; so gently, yet firmly, full of grace, love, wisdom, and sovereignty.

Hillsong United’s song, Wonder, also expresses this positive outlook on wilderness seasons in our lives:

I see the world in grace
I see the world in gospel
I see the world Your way
And I’m walking in the light
I’m walking in the wonder
You’re the wonder in the wild
Turning wilderness to wonder

Wilderness into wonder…only God can do such a thing! Praise be to Him for knowing just what we need to go through in order to get closer to Him, so He can get us to where He wants us…where is BEST for us.

Are you going through a wilderness season now or have been through one that forever changed you in the best way possible? We would love to be inspired by your story and pray for you as well. xo

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Our Only True Satisfaction

1024 683 Melissa Mayer

We frequently mention the devotional New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp because it is seriously that good. For every day of the year there is a page full of wisdom, inspiration, and Truth penned by Tripp and completely tied to Scripture.

On May 24th, Tripp talks about our heart’s search for satisfaction here on earth. We can so easily look to things and people here on earth to satisfy our heart’s longing for love, happiness, and complete satisfaction. The thing is, though, that our Father did design our hearts to search for satisfaction and to be satisfied, but not by or in earthly things.

“All those things that we think will bring us contentment and joy will fail to deliver. What we need in life is Him, and by grace, He is with us, in us, and for us.” – Paul Tripp

Our hearts, so tender and loving, can only be satisfied by the Creator himself. Every time our hearts long for that satisfying, complete, real love, it is longing for closeness to God, it is reaching up toward him, and it is a need for the love that only comes from Him alone.

“Your sense of well-being is intended to come from a reliance on his wisdom, power, and love.” -Paul Tripp

It is by grace that we find peace. It is by grace that the searching ends. It is by grace that our hearts find rest. It is by grace that we feel at home with Him. Without Him in the center of our lives and as the focus of our lives, we would be on a constant search for true peace and satisfaction that we would never find.

“By grace, we have been given everything we could ever need, in Him.” -Paul Tripp

Long story short, without Him, we would be so hopelessly lost…searching, reaching, struggling, striving, and stressing. Instead, we have hope, peace, rest, love, and grace. Thank you, Jesus!

images by felicia lasala

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Embracing the Temporary

683 1024 Lauren Kennedy

A consistent conversation with my friends recently has been encompassed with wondering when the next desire of our heart will happen (meeting a man to marry, being able to move to an area we love, having a baby, etc) and sitting in the moment of what feels like unanswered prayers, tempting us to feel temporarily hopeless and impatient. So many of these desires are out of our control, yet we try so hard to control them + when our attempt is failing, we feel defeated. It’s a vicious cycle!

I have realized that these conversations have not only been happening with friends, but they have been subconsciously swirling in my thoughts. We all tend to be on this mission to make life just the way we want it. This seems like a bit of an intense and selfish statement, but if we are honest, it tends to be the case, right? To explain further, we may be so pleased with the majority of our life, but there always seems to be something we want to change; something that can be “bigger and better.” To get vulnerable for a minute, here are some personal examples: I absolutely love our life in California, but I wish my family was here; I am grateful for our house and neighborhood, but there is another living location that is grasping my attention; I am so thankful for our dry shampoo company, Stranded, as well as my blog, but sometimes I feel like they could both me more groundbreaking and “successful.”

As I sit on these thoughts, I am reminded that striving for more and being driven are not bad things, as long as they are managed properly and do not overtake our gratefulness in the present moments as well as in our current victories. On the other hand, our attempts to make things better often blind us from the beauty of what is happening now. Not to mention, the word contentment is vividly flashing in my mind. Contentment is defined as satisfaction; ease of mind. If you are honest with yourself, do you have ease of mind? Do you feel satisfied? If the answer is no, why do you think that is? Our culture has trained us into getting things when we want them, and social media tempts us to compare and feel like we are not good enough. We often see the successes of others without the work and the struggle that made them happen; we see beautiful relationships without the arguments and intentionality it took to develop them; we see pretty pictures without the hustle and reality behind them. The visuals that fill our minds every day are real life minus a lot of reality, yet even when we know this, what we are seeing can still so easily lead to discontentment.

But what if we changed our perspective? My two dear friends and I were talking yesterday about starting the practice of gratefulness. We want to wake up every morning and write down or state ten things we are currently thankful for. This helps us to dream in a healthy way about the future while being settled in today. Not to mention, some dreams are way tougher than we may realize or imagine. If we think about it, there is so much hope in embracing the temporary! I believe resetting our minds in this way takes practice + requires us to have grace on ourselves. Training ourselves also gives us hope during painful seasons because it is a reminder that they will soon pass and healing will come!

I have come to realize again and again that striving for me is almost always not the best. God knows what is best for us and when it is best for us. This simple thought is so difficult to accept sometimes. The reason something isn’t happening right now does not mean He is not answering prayers. He is always working even when we are unable to see it + we might translate not getting what we want into an unanswered prayer when it is far from the case! My prayer is to always live open-handed, being aware of the beauty of the present (even during painful seasons), and having trust that Jesus guides us and leads us in His perfect timing.

This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series. Be sure and check out the other ladies in this wonderful group–The Refined Woman, Brynn Watkins, Sarah Shreves.

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