Jars of wonderful.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God & not to us.” {2 Corinthians 4:7}

Sweet Surprises :)

Happy Chocolate Covered Raisins Day (yesterday)!

Here ya go, Mommie!

I mailed these items to my mom a few days ago in hopes that she would receive her chocolate covered raisins in time to celebrate this momumental holiday!

She did : ) And she sent me this picture:

Is she not the cutest?!

That woman loves chocolate covered raisins. I love that woman.

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Dorm Life

Living in a dorm, as we all know, has its drawbacks, but it really can be a wonderful place to temporarily reside.  Case in point: NC State University.

Sitting on trash cans with the twins…

this re-enactment is WAY cuter than the original.

Discovering sweet, surprising notes from precious suitemates : )

After M borrowed my hair dryer

Discovering sweet, surprising notes from precious Bradley : )

And oatmeal, no less…he’s good.

Eating Oatmeal.

Heaven on earth.

Eating Junior Mints from my Educational Psychology professor for perfect attendance.

Oh happy day.

…I promise I do more than eat.

Being reminded…

I made this for Bradley for Christmas!

Returning to school after Christmas break to find Lean Pockets literally frozen over…

Oh, Laura.

Playing Mario Cart in Bradley and Christian’s room.

Reading good books.

Figuring out how to use cheap vacuums (speaking of cheap vacuums…)

Studying/struggling to apply Jesus’ Word.

Finishing journals.

Discovering just how disgusting the water is…

Lord knows what those black things are…PTL for my Brita.

Losing toenails…

Still looking for that thing, Laura.

Making/receiving Valentines!

all 36!

When did conversation hearts become so hip, self-centered, and aggressive?

Early morning runs.

emphasis on the "run"--not on the "early".

Intense studying.

except when the font on our self-made study guides is too small to read...

Not pictured:  So. Much. Laughter. It’s great. Small group meetings (by far my favorite thing about my dorm room), March Madness, movie nights, letting my artistic suitemates do whatever they want with my hair (& loving it), actually studying, dancing (& lots of it), delirium, sleepovers, light-hearted conversations, deep discussions, agreements and disagreements, encouragement, tears, hurt, forgiveness and grace.

Grateful for the place God has me. He is in all and through all—I pray I continually let Him into all corners.

I am excited about NOT living in a dorm next year, however, to live with these three wonderfully fun, humbly gifted, absolutely beautiful girls who love Jesus:

taken yesterday : )

Something to Chew On: Lint Rollers

It is easy to just let people vacuum over my life.  Yes I am involved in my local church, yes I am making good grades, yes I have awesome friends and a wonderful godly man in my life…blah blah blah.

But in reality, I fail constantly at being an effective and equipping small group leader; I am not making straight A’s this semester; my friendships are encouraging and edifying, but we often do a terrible job at loving each other; my relationship with Bradley is certainly blissful and sanctifying, but it is also a cycle of loving, failing to love, repenting, apologizing, and looking to Jesus for complete satisfaction.

In reality, I am chock-full of shortcomings and sin.  I can be “sweet” or even sacrificial, but in the depths of my sinful heart, I am prideful, self-centered, and controlling of myself and other people.

There is always something to be redeemed. 

I’m doing “well” because the grace of Jesus covers all my crap—anything I do that’s “good” is because He who is good lives in me, not because I have conjured up goodness by myself.

All this was collected AFTER I vacuumed my floor...

Lint rollers are great inventions.  Not only do they get nearly every grimy, nasty hair and piece of whatevers off my dorm room floor, they also show me exactly what has been hiding—as it is contrasted to the white sticky substance.

Discipleship, accountability, coffee—call it what you like.  We, as followers of Jesus, need to be sharing our lives and hearts—our WHOLE lives and hearts—with older, godlier people (of the same gender) and believing peers.  We are weak and need other people to speak truth into our lives.

I am incredibly grateful for God-fearing girlfriends…

sweet Bradley…

and a wise woman with whom I engage in these conversations.

And we MUST be completely honest.  Otherwise we’re just chatting and flaring our personalities.

Real brokenness, conviction, confession, repentance, and healing is FAR sweeter when it is shared and urged by people around me that love me.  I need people consistently in my life with whom to share my life—thoughts, actions, passions, and situations—openly and honestly.  Those people need to love me enough to not tell me what I want to hear.  They need to be obedient in their own walk with Christ, so that they can be honest, discerning, and wise in their assessment of me and my walk with the Lord.

That’s why accountability, or even just raw honesty, is so hard—not only do you realize there’s a lot more sin there than you previously thought, but you also realize your old method wasn’t working like you thought it was.  Or you’re already aware that your method isn’t working and you’re simply refusing to walk in complete repentance/struggling obedience—which is a much scarier place to be.

Vacuums are great for giving the illusion that my floor is clean; lint rollers are great for ensuring that my floor is not completely pure.

Bubbly conversations about surface-level struggles diminish the toxicity and presence of sin and suppress the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in my life and others’ lives.

Lint rolling over my life/my heart—raw openness, humility, and awareness of sin—leads me to a deeper love for and obedience to the God of the Gospel.  When my eyes are opened to my wickedness, which is always more depraved than I think it is, it is easier to see how insanely gracious Jesus was to come and die for my depravity.

And I remember His resurrection and victorious cry: “It is finished.”

I can share my sin and shortcomings because I know how much I am loved by the all-holy God—because He loves me despite my failure.  I want to share my sin because I love Him and want to reflect Him instead of myself.

Chip the vacuum. Bring on the lint roller.

Take Note: A. W. Tozer

This past Christmas break, Bradley and I drove up to RDU early on Sunday morning to go to our church.  That particular morning, Matt Papa, a worship leader at the Summit preached. He preached Jesus–and that is what I most recall.

In the conclusion of his sermon, he quoted A. W. Tozer when he said:

“I think it would be a wonderful thing if every preacher in America would begin to preach about God and nothing else for one solid year.  Just one solid year to preach about God.  Who He is, His attributes, His perfections, His being, the kind of God He is, why we dare to trust Him, why we can trust Him, why we should trust Him, why we can love Him, why we should love Him, why we dare not fall short.  And keep on preaching on God, the triune God, and keep on until God fills the whole horizon and the whole world.  Faith would spring up like grass by the watercourses.  Then let a man get up and preach a promise and the whole congregation would say, ‘I can trust that promise; look who made it.’”

I pray that all church leaders and believers would be filled with the Holy Spirit enough so that Jesus and our desperate need for Him would be proclaimed and received–over and over again.

May “faith spring up like grass by the watercourses”; may you use us, Lord.

Something to Chew On: “Therefore”

Bradley and I were running errands last week (something that is done at our leisure over spring break), and talking in the car about verses in the Bible. Our conversations aren’t always that spiritual, it was just something that was on his mind.

I was blessed this past summer to be a part of The City Project, in which I was able to take a Christian Philosophy course through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I gained biblical and relevant wisdom and knowledge–read: It was humbling.  I distinctly remember my professor telling us that the best and worst thing we [believers] ever did was insert verses in the Bible.

Short verses are good for memorization; bad for comprehension. The large majority of Scripture are letters or stories.  They are not to be read sporatically or inadvertenly.  They are to be read and studied completely.

It would not make sense to pick up a novel and read one sentence on page 328…so why do we do this with Scripture?

Bradley joked that he loves when people–(we have both been very guilty of this in the past; we do not want to be condemning, but sanctified and wise)–quote a verse that begins with “Therefore…” Obviously that word refers to something that was previously said. We should probably read what was previously read in order to better comprehend what is about to be said.

For example: The Great Commission.

The widely accepted first word of The Great Commission is “Therefore”.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20)

However, Jesus’ first words were: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18).

By saying that “all authority” is His, Jesus exercised His authority post-resurrection.  He proved His compassion by His death on our behalf and His ultimate Lordship by His raising Himself from the dead.  I hope I never get over that.

His command for us to make disciples, to make them of all nations, and His promise that He will always be with us are legitimized by His resurrection.  This is why He has the authority to command us and the power to fulfill His promise.

Don’t quote verses that begin with “Therefore.”  Read your Bible…and see Jesus for who He is.

Spring Break Photo Recap!

Here’s a photo recap of my Spring Break:

I went home this week for a wonderful time at home.

Organizing my parents’ mail, and found my dad’s copy of the Carolina Alumni Review…sporting his favorite phrase 🙂

I drove Bradley to Whiteville to meet a friend and his dad to drive him to Durham, where he spent Thursday – Sunday doing inner-city ministry and learning from incredibly wise people. I can’t wait to read his notes!

He didn’t want to leave Gertie, his dog/first love.

She didn’t want him to leave either…

Unrestricted, unhurried time with Jesus.

One of my favorite things about coming home. Good food.

I also took Allie on a walk everyday. I called it Project: Make the Dog Not Fat.

Not pictured: Coffee dates and car rides with girlfriends.  It is so cool to see how Christ is using each of our situations to draw us further into Himself and to grow our heart for His Gospel and His mission. I am so thankful for our church in RDU, and the implications of being told again and again of our need for Jesus.

Mostly not pictured: Lots of time with my parents, grandparents, Trey and Ashley. The difficulty of loving when it is hard. (When is it easy?) And my humbled heart.

Peeing on the Playground.

Being a NC Teaching Fellow, fulfilling my requirements includes having ten hours (it is always, and should be, more) of field experience every semester.  Field experience can be observing/volunteering in a classroom, tutoring, or working with outside-of-school academic programs.  I much prefer time in a classroom–it has shown me, in an unique manner, the realities of school, teachers’ responsibilities, administrators, teaching strategies, students’ struggles, and adults’ efforts to alleviate issues.

On Monday and Tuesday I visited a Kindergarten classroom at a local school.

In this particular classroom, there was a student that had entered Kindergarten just the week prior–he was an Honduras native and an ESL student. *William had moved to America with his mother several ago.

Fortunately I have had awesome Spanish teachers in elementary school through high school, and so I was able to communicate with William-read: I know some vocab words and know how to loosely form simple sentences/phrases.  Fortunately, between me working closely with him and the luxury of having an ESL classmate who is bilingual in Spanish and English, William was able to complete most of his work.

Like any six-year-old, he loves running around on a playground. So going to “el parque” was the most exciting part of the day for William.  On Monday, as the students were walking in a single-file line (I was walking with him and holding his hand…I’m a sucker), as soon as he saw the playground, he began pointing and yelling to me that he was going to go “…en el parque! En el parque, mizz Kayla!”  

I could have died. His sweet face lit up as he squeezed my hand tighter.

The next day, as we were walking to the playground again, as soon as the slides and swings were in sight, he started shouting about “el parque” again.  But this time he let go of my hand and bolted ahead toward the rock wall–yes, rock wall. Since when do public school playgrounds get rock walls? I was gypped.

As soon as I thanked the Door Holder for holding the gate door for me, the teacher’s assistant rushed over to me to “stop William!” Apparently, before he could reach the rock wall, William’s bladder failed him and he relieved himself…not in his pants.

Fortunately, by the time he was in my sight he was fastening his belt.  I explained to him as best I could that “el parque no es el baño”, and that if he ever has to use the bathroom, he must go “en la escuela.” I then asked the bilingual student to make sure William knew that he could never use the bathroom outside, but must always use the restroom in the classroom.   When William understood, I was asked to take him back to the classroom to tell his teacher what had happened.

On our long walk back to the classroom, I asked William again if he understood why we had to leave the playground.  He did, and he replied “lo siento, mizz Kayla.”  My heart broke as I assured him it would be okay and that no one was angry with him

His teacher handled the situation and showed William where the bathroom was…she will be working with him on closing the door when he uses “el bano.”

I couldn’t help but think about this in a spiritual context. I like analogies, I’m sorry.

How many times does this happen in the church? In Christian homes? Where a child or a new believer is so excited about their salvation and Jesus’ work…the “basic” aspects of Christianity, and we shoot them down by telling them (or thinking) they are young and naive.  We see them as spiritually inferior.

They get so thrilled they pee in their pants and we embarrass them and tell them to stop, when they simply naturally responded to how awesome Jesus is.

I want my kids to pee in their pants when I tell them the Gospel story.

I hope I never stifle my children’s joy over what Jesus has done for them. I pray I am humbled by their love for the Lord.  May God grow a child-like love for Him in my heart.

You’re Beautiful.

On Tuesday night, Bradley and I went to his family’s church’s college ministry gathering, Overflow.  Sometimes I find (slash pridefully scrutinize) that some churches’ worship and preaching contain musical and communicative prowess, but lack theological depth–aka, they could be singing or talking about Joe-shmo because they don’t mention Jesus/the Cross. Tuesday night, the Overflow ministry preached the Gospel of Christ in word and worship.  Bradley and I were blessed and humbled by it.

Nathan, Brad’s best friend, has an older brother, Micah, who leads worship at Overflow and is the lead singer of his band, Rio Bravo. The last song Micah led that night was Phil Wickham’s, “You’re Beautiful”.  It was incredibly worshipful.

Phil Wickham is one of the few Christian artists I have enjoyed over the years. I remember hearing his song, “Cannons” on our local Christian radio station, “K-Love” (who I originally thought was named “Kayla”–self-absorbed from the start). I went home, looked up the lyrics, and have been listening to his music since.

I have a sentiment attached to the song below.  When I was in Kenya this summer, I realized I had been running from the Lord with my previous relationship with Bradley and that I needed to be obedient with the knowledge I possessed at the time, and end our then 2 1/2 year relationship.  It was obviously an emotional time where I was not unsure, but was very emotionally weak.

Our group went on a safari for a nice break during our two-week mission in which we got to camp in a Kenyan national park! During our safari drive, I sat next to one of the girls I grew close to, Jenny.  She held me, stroked my hair, and spoke biblical assurances to me.  She was acting so much like Jesus to me in that moment.  I am so grateful for her.

We were listening to her iPod for a while, and this song began to play…as the tears started to roll.

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died and then You rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Little Ones: HJ & Norah

I get to spend my Sunday evenings with, hands down, the cutest 2-year-old little girls on the planet.

These girls love [my] purses, scarves, and sunglasses, they will laugh forever, & they love their mommies. We have a lot in common 🙂

Hattie Jo and Norah are the daughters of two of the families that are moving to Greensboro, NC to plant Mercy Hill Church.

Mercy Hill has a team of singles, couples, and families who have tasted and seen the necessity and sufficiency of Jesus’ work in their own lives, and desire it for other people. So in response to this Gospel and by the Spirit’s leading, the Mercy Hill team will be moving to Greensboro this spring. Yay/Boo.

Bradley and I have been blessed by Jeremy and Julianne Dager.

Jeremy disciples Bradley, Bradley and I get free wisdom and meals, and I get to enjoy their precious little girl. This is not a give-and-take relationship.

Andrew Hopper will be the lead pastor at Mercy Hill, and will be serving alongside his wife Anna and their two little ones, Hattie Jo and AP (he hangs out with Mommy on Sunday nights…two 2-year-olds can be plenty).

I can’t believe I get paid money to hang out with these two sets of chubby cheeks every week.

These girls are smart, apologetic, tender-hearted, and are by far the best huggers I’ve ever seen. My prayer for them is that the Lord would be faithful to them through their parents and church to preach the sufficiency of Jesus and the work He has prepared for us–that it would seep into the deepest corners of their hearts and lives. Pray with me for the Mercy Hill team–that they are in awe of and a part of the spread of the Gospel among the city of Greensboro, and their worship and adoration of our Risen King would be multiplied.

Happy Leap Day!

This is the year 2012, and it is February 29th! This is exciting for multiple reasons.

I only have 2 classes today.

Small group is tonight! SO EXCITED.

Spring Break is in 3 days! …midterms tomorrow and Friday.

I feel like I have an extra day to catch up (yes, I know the week goes on as usual, just making this year 366 days).

But I do have an extra day to catch up, PTL! My sociology midterm is online (aka, it’s going to kick my butt), but I discovered last night that it isn’t due until this weekend!

I have a paper due this afternoon (completed!) and a midterm in my Intro to Elementary Ed class on Thursday, so this is a huge relief. I feel as if I’ve been given an extra day to live by it being Feb. 29th, but also by realizing I have an extra day to study for a midterm!

Thank You Lord for the small blessings–for more time to glorify You and not me. Show me how to use it well.

As I fret over and celebrate time, You hold time in Your hand.

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