Change, Growth, & Progress

The other day I was reading a blog where this girl talked about how she wrote letters to herself. She wrote them, sealed them up, put a date on them that was set in the future, and tucked them away until then.

She wrote about everything that came to her mind and anything she thought her future self would enjoy reading. She talked about how much fun it was to open her letters and how much she looked forward to it.

I thought this was such a cool idea, so naturally I decided to write my own letter.

A couple of days after reading that blog and deciding I should write my own letter, I went into Starbucks to get a coffee before I went to the library for a few hours. The line was SO long, but I really needed a coffee, so I decided to write my letter to myself on my phone while I was waiting in line.

As I was writing it, I realized that when I looked back at my letter, I would be looking for three main things: Growth, Change, and Progress.

I love growth and I love progress. Who doesn’t? But change? Change is scary!

What if things changed during the time my letter was waiting to be opened that I didn’t want to change? What if things changed and I didn’t even realized they had until I opened my letter? It was a scary thought.

As I continued writing, I realized that you can’t have growth or progress without change. It’s impossible. Growth and progress are change!

So maybe, just maybe, next time I’m hesitant to let change occur, I’ll remind myself that I’m growing and progressing in the midst of that change, and I’ll let it happen.

 

Dear Kelsie,

 You just finished your first semester of college and you are thriving! It’s so much harder than you originally imagined, but it’s also so much more fun than you imagined.
You’re currently not dating anyone and you’re extremely content with that. Instead of investing in a relationship, you’re investing in yourself and the things that are beneficial for you at the moment.
You’ve made some of the greatest friends in Chattanooga so far and you’ve strengthened some old friendships.
You miss your family like crazy, but you know they’re just a phone call away or a short two hour drive. Your parents have been so supportive of you this past year, well actually your whole life, but you’ve just recently realized that they’re super-heros. They’re constantly telling you how proud they are of you and
how much they love you.
You love to explore and find new places. You’re spreading your wings and getting your hands dirty, but you also know there’s no place like home.
Right now, you’re really passionate about writing. At the moment, you think that you want to make a career out of it. You don’t know what type of writing or what type of career, all you know is that it’s what you enjoy doing. Your core group leader shared the quote: “Your passions aren’t random. They’re your calling.”
And you’re clinging to that. You keep telling yourself to take it day by day and that’s exactly what you’re doing.
You have such a positive outlook on life and I pray that no one ever alters that or takes it from you.
Sometimes you get restless with the everyday routine of life, but you’re constantly learning new things and stepping out of your comfort zone and that’s making a big
difference. I hope you never stop growing, changing,and progressing.
At the end of the day, you love yourself and you know that you have so much value. You refuse to settle for anything less than you deserve.

love, Kelsie
p.s Your hair looks REALLY bad today, and I doubt that will have changed when you’re reading this. Hehe, love you.

 

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art.

When I was a kid, I used to get confused why songwriters and singers were called artists. My definition of art was a painting that hung in an expensive gallery located in a big city that I’d probably never venture into.

I had art class second semester of my senior year in high school ONLY because a fine art was required to graduate and I waited until the last possible minute to take the class. And let me tell you, I did not enjoy it. Granted, it was the last class of the day and I was a senior. Of course, I wanted out of there the whole time because I was convinced “senioritis” was a real thing. But anyways, this didn’t really help my interpretation of art because I am horrible at drawing, painting, and just about everything else that was required of me during that class. But recently I heard someone describing writing a book as a process of artwork. Now there’s something I can relate to.

I didn’t understand that anything that is created is art. 

For example, let’s take my dad. He loves cooking. He’s always coming up with these crazy recipes that are just about as random as you can get. Like seriously, he makes some of the wildest stuff. One time, he made Rice Krispies with peanut butter in them. The texture was odd, but they weren’t bad. But anyways, cooking is my dad’s art. He’s probably never thought of it as art or even as a creative process, but it is. (No doubt he’s just thinking about making something that tastes good.) But it is art. He’s creating and he’s making.

Creativity comes in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, formats, colors, and lengths. It’s an absolutely beautiful thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creations lately and I’ve decided that one of my favorite ones is the sunset. I wonder all the time if God planned for deep reds and soft pinks to effortlessly melt together to signal the end of a day? Does He sit up in Heaven every evening and paint the sunset? Does He fix a cup of hot tea and project it across the sky, waiting for His creations to enjoy another piece of His stunning artwork?

If you look at a sunset, I mean really look at it, you’ll see that nothing about it is perfect. The edges are lopsided and the creases are never perfectly blended together; but because it’s such a beautiful creation that was so effortlessly created you never notice those kinds of things. You’re too busy admiring art that’s sent straight from the Artist.

In a blog I read months ago, I came across a quote that I quickly scribbled down. Emily Wall stated: “Create excellence and don’t compare yourself. Nothing kills creativity faster than comparison.” 

And that’s something that I’ve really struggled with. I’m constantly comparing everything  I do to not only those around me but also professionals. I didn’t even realize that I was killing my creativity. It has taken me a long time to understand that everything I make and do is one of a kind. I still struggle with comparing my writing and ideas to other peoples, but I’m learning to love my art for the mess that it is.

You were created by the Creator so you could create lovely, breath-taking art. What are you waiting for?

The Ultimate Essence of Evil

I recently heard a sermon by Dr. John Piper. I was excited to listen to him because he’s such a good author and I’ve always heard such good things about him as a speaker. As he began speaking and I began jotting down his words, something he said stopped my dead in my tracks. “You must hate it,” he said. Hate something? Wait what? I quickly backed up and read the last couple of lines I’d written to see what I was supposed to be hating. I quickly realized he must be talking about the ultimate essence of evil. “You must hate the ultimate essence of evil.”

It made more sense to me now that I realized what I was supposed to be hating, but I still wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being told to hate anything. Hate is a very strong word, as my mom would say. But still, I continued to listen to Dr. John Piper. I didn’t see myself taking anything valuable away from this lesson, but I turned out to be very wrong.

First, let’s flip to the book of Jeremiah 2.

Has a nation ever changed its gods?
But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.
Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of the living water, and they have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns
that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:11-13

Dr. Piper told us that two major issues were going on  here: 1. The people have forsaken God. 2. The people are trying to take matters into their own hands.

The ultimate essence of evil that is going on here can is also described in two ways.

The ultimate essence of evil: to lose a taste for God.
The ultimate essence of evil: to never acquire a taste for God.
Maybe I was going to take something away from this lesson after all.

Next, we’re going to flip back to Genesis 3. We all know this story very well. It’s the story of the first sin. The story of when man became corrupt and we’d spend the rest of our lives paying for it. The subtitle in my Bible says “The Fall”.

But was eating the fruit really the first sin? Dr. Piper makes a strong argument that I’d never once heard or even thought about.

Adam and Eve never wanted the fruit from the forbidden tree, until the serpent came along and made them curious as to why they couldn’t have it. The serpent placed doubt in their minds. He made them think that God was withholding something sweet, delicious, and knowledgable from them.

The first sin wasn’t committed when Eve ate the bite of the forbidden fruit, it was committed minutes before then. The first sin was committed when Even desired the fruit more than she desired God.

“When we eat the world’s fruit, we are saying we won’t be denied from God what desire more than God.”

The ultimate essence of evil: thinking that God is withholding something really exciting from us.
The ultimate essence of evil: desiring something more than you
desire God.

Lastly, lets turn to Romans 3:22-23.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the
glory of God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

The ultimate essence of evil: we taste Jesus, but we still prefer other things.

It almost seems like a broken record. Time and time again, people have turned their backs on God, questioned His power and His goodness, and failed Him repeatedly, but yet, He still forgives us each and every time. He’s always going to be standing there waiting, with His arms wide open for us, whether we think we deserve it or not.

As I was looking back at my notes and writing this, a song came on my Spotify by Calah and it sent chills down my body because it was SO relevant to this. Some of the lyrics go like this:

“Where have you been? Where have you gone?
You’ve tried to hide. But why for so long?
You hide your face. You close your smile.
But I’m here with grace and arms of love.

Come back, Come back
Come sit and stay awhile
Come back, Come back and enter in
Come back, Come back
Come sit and stay awhile
My love

I formed your parts. I see your mind.
I’ll hold your heart for all of time.
There’s nothing more you have to hide.
You’ve pleased me well despite all you’re not.”

I still haven’t figured out if I’m okay with letting myself hate something, even if it is the essence of evil, but I definitely understand it more. But maybe that’s not the entire point. Maybe Dr. Piper was just trying to open eyes about the ultimate essence of evil. Maybe he just wanted us to know what it was and that it’s a very real thing and that we might be living in evil without realizing it.

Love,
Kelsie

The Generation that Does

We’re the generation that is written off and overlooked. We have too many tattoos, unneeded color in our hair, face jewelry that will never get us a decent-paying job, and odd haircuts. Honestly the list could go on and on.

We’re also the generation that eats, sleeps, and breathes technology, always refreshing our devices, terrified we’re going to miss something important. It’s ironic, really, because the most important things are happening right in front of us, but we’re too busy staring down at our screens.

But I refuse to believe that we’re a generation that doesn’t love Jesus.

I recently had the incredible privilege to attend Passion, a gathering of sixty-thousand college students that came to gather to praise Jesus. Yep, you read that right. Sixty-thousand college students that have hearts set on fire for Jesus from around the country all in one building. 

The experience of it was truly as crazy, yet beautiful as it sounds.

The gathering took place in the Georgia Dome. The worship was so incredible. Some of the most amazing artists were there: Carrie Underwood, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, and Hillsong United. I felt like I could physically feel the music inside my chest it was so loud and so moving. Sixty. Thousand. College. Students. All singing at the top of their lungs, raising their hands as high in the air as they could possibly go, praising, worshiping, glorifying God through beautifully written music.

Try to tell me this generation doesn’t love Jesus.

The speakers that came and delivered messages were all absolutely incredible. Lou Giglio. Beth Moore. Christine Caine. John Piper. Levi Lusko. Francis Chan. Katherine and Jay Wolf. I have pages and pages filled with notes that I frantically scribbled down each session. Every message was so powerful. People were moved to tears as they heard the undeniable truth of what He’s done for us.

Try to tell me this generation doesn’t love Jesus.

The first night we were encouraged to get in small groups and pray over each other and the next few days. Sitting to my left was a foreign exchange student from China, so I immediately asked him to be in my prayer group. He ended up being the only guy in the group and my Church of Christ side kicked in, so I asked him to pray for our group. He responded with, “I’m not sure if I can find the correct words in English to praise God as He needs to be praised in these next few minutes.” So I ended up saying a prayer for our group, but we ended up having a few minutes to spare. The Chinese student asked if he could pray over us in Chinese in our remaining minutes. Of course, we said yes. If you’ve ever been spoken to in a language completely foreign, it was probably frustrating and maybe confusing. But being prayed over in a foreign language? It was one of the most precious moments of my life. I had no idea what was being said, but I know he was so passionate about whatever it was, he was so into his conversation with God that it didn’t matter. I had chills running over my skin as I listened to each word he spoke. I will never in my entire life forget how beautiful the sound was.

After he prayed, I asked him what he said and he told me that he prayed that even though we had a language barrier at times, we were still here worshiping OUR Lord, together.

Try to tell me this generation doesn’t love Jesus.

The days ended with hundreds of people crowded around the stage for one final Jesus-infused jam session. It was unlike anything I’d ever been a part of.

So while we’re a generation that misses things because we won’t get off our phones, we’re also a generation that has hearts on fire for Jesus. We live for Him and He lives through us.

So you can try to tell me we’re a generation that’s leaving the church and that we don’t have faith, but I won’t believe you. 

My top 16 reads in 2016

books

I am a part of everything that I have read.” -Theodore Roosevelt 

I don’t have a favorite book, author, or even genre. I LOVE so many. I’ll read just about anything, no matter what it is about or who it is by. But with a lot of difficulty, I picked my top sixteen books I read in 2016 and I wanted to share them. BTW these are in no particular order.

 

When you’re feeling adventurous.

1.Eat, Pray, Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert.

2. Into the Wild. by Jon Krakauer.

3. WILD.  by Cheryl Strayed.

 

When you want a novel.

4. ROOM. by Emma Donoghue 

5. And the Mountains Echoed. by Khaled Hosseini 

6. The Kite Runner. by Khaled Hosseini 

(I just recently got his book A Thousand Splendid Suns and I can’t wait to read it.)

7. Me Before You. by JoJo Moyes.

8. After You. by JoJo Moyes. 

(These two are a series.)

 

When you want a mystery.

9. The Grownup. by Gillian Flynn.

10. The Stranger Within. by Kathryn Croft.

11. The Girl on the Train. by Paula Hawkins.

 

When you want an autobiography.

12. Unashamed. by Lecrae.

13. Walk to Beautiful. by Jimmy Wayne.

 

When you need a little picking up.

14. Uninvited. by Lysa TerKeurst.

15. Looking for Lovely. by Annie Downs. 

16. Let’s All Be Brave. by Annie Downs.

 

If anyone has any book suggestions for 2017 or just wants to talk books, I WOULD LOVE THAT!

The New Year

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S Lewis

I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions. If you realize something needs to be changed, why not change it right then? Why wait until January 1st? I think a lot of pressure comes with the New Year. We try so hard to get things right just because it’s a new year, only to be completely burnt out by mid-Marcch at the latest.

So I’m not making a New Year’s resolution. Instead, I’m going to work on different aspects of my life. I’m going to work on being nicer when I don’t want to be nice at all. I’m going to work on spending more quality time with the people that matter most to me. I’m going to work on taking it one day at a time. I’m going to work on enjoying the days as they come, instead of letting myself get overwhelmed by a new, full year that’s waiting for me.

I’m not going to set unrealistic goals for myself in the beginning of the year that I will completely forget by the middle of the year, but I’m going to celebrate each day, whatever it brings. I’m going to take more deep breathes; I’m going to read my Bible more; I’m going to eat more vegetables and drink more water; I’m going to go on more hikes; I’m going to set aside the time to make myself happier and healthier in 2017.

As I was doing my devotional the other day, I came across this verse: “As for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13.

Instead of making New Years resolutions, lets take it one day at a time instead of trying to “fix” everything right off the bat and let’s never tire of doing what is good.

So here’s to a year of not getting everything right, a year full of admitting I don’t have it altogether, but most importantly a year full of laughs, love, sunshine, smiles, and good vibes.