Love

My Sister

Today, I decided that I felt like writing a sappy/sentimental post. I don’t usually write like this and it took at least three false starts. So buckle up. ūüôā

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There is someone in my life who I treasure like no one else. She has been with me for longer than I can remember and we have shared some of the most joyful, exciting, painful, and infuriating moments of our lives with one another. When we are separated, it hurts to have no one to laugh over inside jokes with or to listen to me complain for the eight hundredth time about drama at work.

She is my sister.

My sister is a beautiful girl. She is kind and sweet and she puts other people before herself. She always wants her friends to be happy and keeps them from pain if she at all can.

We’ve grown up beside one another, learning and laughing and, occasionally, yelling. We’ve literally “done life” together for the past sixteen years. She knows my ugly side and she loves me anyway. We’ve both changed and become stronger both by ourselves and as a team.

My sister has the voice/hands/ears/heart of a musician. She improves in playing the guitar every day, pouring herself into the music and working through the frustrating chords and strumming patterns. She leads worship by example, devoted to her Lord and happy to sing to Him.

She is also an artist, crafting pictures and coming up with creative gifts for those she loves. She doesn’t paint very often any more, but her journal pages hold more sketches than notes, all of them cute, intricate, weird, or some combination of the three.

In addition to growing up physically these past years, I have seen my sister grow spiritually in ways that make me so proud of her. She devotes part of her morning, first thing, to spending time in the Word and praying. She is one of the first to offer to do things others don’t want to do. She loves spending time with people and getting to know them and showing them the love that she knows so well.

My sister is one of a kind. She dyes her hair blue if she feels like it. She builds forts with little kids out of any spare pillows and blankets found lying around. She crosses her eyes and sticks out her tongue when she thinks I’ve said something ridiculous. She wears BDUs one day and frilly tank tops the next.

I love my sister. I am so blessed to have her – to live in the same room as my best friend. I pray that we will always be so close.

Kira

Who in your life is special to you?
What makes them so dear?

Please Read the Gospels

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Photo by George Sharvashidze from Pexels

Have you ever heard a story that you loved so much you could listen to it over and over again? Is there a book that you’ve worn through from so many re-readings? A movie with scratches on the disc because you have to watch it again?

Stories are incredible and many of them are so good that we could experience them again and again without growing bored. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched¬†The Princess Bride or Annie. Whinnie the Pooh never gets old and Narnia will always have a special place in my heart.

But even those stories can wear down some eventually. I have to take a break between Doctor Who marathons and Lord of the Rings can only be seen so often.

But there is one story that is just as awe-inspiring and moving no matter how many times you read it. The gospel feels just as fresh the first time as the thirtieth, as we see our sin and then see what Christ went through to save us from it.

I’ve been reading through Luke for my morning devotions and I love to read all the stories of Jesus’s ministry again. The two that stand out, though, are His birth, and His crucifixion and resurrection.

My soul magnifies the Lord along with Mary and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47).  How could Christ have humbled Himself so much and been willing to suffer so much just so that I could be with Him? How could anyone love me that much?

And yet, God does love me that much. He loves all of His children that much. And the four Gospel accounts are refreshingly full of that love.

It seems simple to read through the Gospels over and over again. Shouldn’t more mature Christians be studying other parts of the Bible? We already understand salvation.

But the Gospel is the basis of Christianity. It is Christianity. They are encouraging and lovely and convicting and beautiful all at once.

Don’t forget to read the Gospels. Don’t forget the most important story ever told.

Kira

What’s your favorite part of the Gospels?

Some Ideas for Showing Love

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Photo by nappy from Pexels

There are a thousand different ways to show people that you love them, but sometimes none of them come to mind. Here is a list we can all reference when we’re looking for creative ways to love the people around us.

  • text them randomly in the middle of the week
  • clean their room (exercise caution here – my sister always says she can’t find anything after I clean)
  • cook something amazing for them
  • go for a walk together
  • pray for them (they might not know about it, but it’s still loving them)
  • let them win an argument
  • do their chores for a day
  • presents!!! (works especially well for younger kids – unless it’s food, then it works for anyone)
  • give them a hug and just tell them you love them
  • go for coffee together
  • write an encouraging note and leave it somewhere
  • sit next to them
  • brag on them (unless they’re really shy)
  • have an inside joke
  • serve together (make a meal for someone, babysit, volunteer, etc.)
  • ask about their day/something they’re interested in
  • play with their hair (works amazing for girls)
  • ask what would make them feel loved and do it

Kira

Any other ideas about how to love someone?

What Are You Going To Do With Your Summer?

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What are you doing with your summer?

Most of us are already a few weeks into the blissful time of the year known as “summer.” It is a magical time, a time of no school (sorry homeschoolers – I’m right there with you), a time of hot weather, a time of consuming far more watermelon than should be consumed by a single person in such a short space of time.

Summer is also usually a time that is seen as a chance to “relax.” We go go go all school year and then get two months off. Two months to do whatever we want and not think about work or stress or any of the other craziness that bogs us down the rest of the year.

The problem with that mentality is that it tends to turn us into lazy and selfish people during our vacation. Rest is good. Rest is healthy. But rarely do we need two full months of it. And often it can be accomplished by simply changing what we’re doing – not just laying in a hammock drinking iced coffees all day.

And a chance to do things that we enjoy is also excellent. Hobbies and passions are great and they turn us into well rounded and interesting human beings. It’s nice to go for a walk by yourself or read a good book or sing along to every single Disney song ever written in all of history. Ahem.¬†Moving on.

But what can we do to serve other people this summer? What can we do to grow spiritually (or mentally) this summer? What goals could we reach over the next months with the extra time we have?

This summer, I want to tighten my relationship with one of my sisters and be friends with her.

This summer, I want to finish memorizing 1 Timothy.

This summer, I want to finish the third draft of my novel and revise it one time after that.

This summer, I want to train for and run a half marathon.

Those are some of my goals for the summer. Let’s not waste this summer. It is an amazing opportunity and it holds so much life. Let’s live it.

Kira

What are your goals/plans for the summer?

God’s Outrageous Generosity

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I wrote my last post in a state of dullness; life wasn’t working and nothing I did seemed to help. All I could do was to keep pushing through, keep doing the things that need to get done in a day: eat, shower, school, work, chores. Go to bed, wake up, repeat.

That feeling isn’t completely gone. It’s beginning to fade, but still here. I’m continuing in my routines, getting things done, and just trying to live through.

But God is gracious. He knows how I’ve been feeling and, while feelings aren’t everything, He did give them to us and He has felt them Himself. On Sunday, He offered some soothing of the struggle – some joy in the midst of the drudgery.

The sermon was on the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 (you can listen to it here). If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, like I have. Surely there’s nothing new.

Of course, every time we think that, God is quick to prove us wrong on an epic scale.

The whole sermon was amazing, hitting me with different points and introducing new ways of thinking about the parable that I had never considered before. But it was one verse and one point in particular that has stuck with me and won’t leave my head, through the roughness of life.

And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” -Luke 15:31

The father in the story is talking to a disgruntled older brother about why he celebrates the return of his wayward son. The father represents our Father in Heaven and his words are those of our Lord.

One of the true-est truths (if there can be such a thing) is that of God’s generosity. It is apparent throughout Scripture from the beginning of time all the way through every moment of history up until this very one. He has given us His universe to live in, His food to eat, His Son to be saved by.

Everything God has, He has given to us.

You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours…

However, as our pastor pointed out, this is also one of the first truths that we want to deny to ourselves. “How is this generosity? It’s probably just God trying to toughen me up or ‘sanctify me’ or something. But not generosity.”

Eve believed God was keeping something from her when He said not to eat the fruit. It’s a lie that has crept from generation to generation and one that we must be aware of in order to combat.

The past couple weeks, it is the lie that I have believed. “God’s giving me a rough time right now. He’s withholding the ease and happiness that I want. Maybe I’ll get it one day, but there’s a reason it’s being kept from me for now.” No. God is overwhelmingly generous with me, always sharing all that He has with me.

And when you think about how much He has, that’s a big deal. So, don’t be discouraged. Remember that your Father loves you and has given you all that is His. Because He wants to.

Kira

What are some ways that you can see God’s generosity in your life right now? How do you remember those when you’re suffering?

Love Doesn’t Come From Me

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We love because he first loved us.

We all know 1 John 4:19 by heart. We can recite it forward, backward, and upside down. But how often do we think about the deep meaning of the verse?

I think we Christians have a tendency to “know” all the popular and spiritual verses without understanding them. We have the knowledge in our heads, but it doesn’t reach our hearts. 1 John 4:19 is one of those verses.

I’ve been thinking about love lately. Not the romantic kind – the unconditional kind. In my pathetic attempts to love people by myself recently, I have discovered just how far my stores of love go. It’s not far. I began to despair of ever being able to love people as the Bible commands.

But then God reminded me that it’s not my job to come up with all the love. It’s His. I can love the people around me (no matter how obnoxious, rude, or just plain mean they are) by using His love. And His love never runs out.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

God performed the ultimate act of love for me two thousand years ago and continues to love me to this very day. It is because of that love that I can love others. And the same holds true for you.

Kira

What verses encourage you through the difficulties of living for God? Are there any that you need to look at more closely for the truth they convey?

Book Review: Passion and Purity

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Every once in a while, a truly excellent book is born. A book that changes the perspectives and lives of thousands of people – quietly. This book isn’t made into a movie. It doesn’t go wild on the internet. It might even be rather slow to sell. But God is faithful and He uses it to further His kingdom, even decades after it was written.

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot is a quiet little book. It’s not particularly long and is the exact opposite of flashy. From the cover to the introduction to the book itself, Elliot creates an atmosphere of peace and rest. I finished this book in the space of only a few days, so eager was I to get back to the comforting read, and then was sorry when it was over.

Passion and Purity tells the love story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, a gripping and sweet tale that seems as if it could come out of a storybook. But their story serves a deeper purpose, as do all of our stories. Elliot uses their years of joy and pain to discuss faithfulness to God in the midst of romantic relationships – purity in the middle of passion.

I’ve heard this book recommended countless places and will now join the voices urging that everyone desirous of living a pure life read the short volume.¬†Passion and Purity is the first book on relationships I have read (and I have read many) to focus so pointedly on living for God in all your life and not just what to do with these feelings tangled up inside. It recognizes that we were created to glorify God and serve Him alone – even if that goes against what our heart is telling us to do (thank you, Disney, for that worldview). We must not waste these years of singleness and we must not waste future years of marriage. All is for the glory of God.

As much as I hesitate to use the word, “relatable” describes Elisabeth Elliot’s work quite well. She understands what it feels like to want marriage so badly, but to be kept from it over and over. She knows the struggles of submitting yourself to the Lord’s plan for your life. She knows the daily discipline of obedience. And she offers encouragement, through it all.

And so I say, read Passion and Purity. Read it carefully; read it slowly; read it with open heart and mind. Elisabeth Elliot holds much wisdom from the life God has given her and she generously shares it if only we are willing to listen.

Kira

Have you read any good books lately? What made them worth the read?

From the Archives: The Little Things

So often, small happy things get lost in the whirlwind. It’s refreshing to come back to in the middle of everything right now.

Originally published: 6/2/17


Life is busy. Pretty much anyone who ever lived would agree. There’s work, school, family, sports, church events, and everything else that claims hours and days of our lives. Most of that stuff is really good. We were made to live full lives and glorify God with our work. But often, we let it overwhelm us and forget to enjoy it.

I’ve been noticing the little things lately. And by little things, I mean the stuff that I would usually ignore in favor of all the work (or made up work) that I have to do. Why would I watch my little blonde, blue eyed sister pick flowers on a hill when I have a book to read? Why would I listen to my brother whistle whatever song is stuck in his head when I have finals to study for? And why would I lay in the hammock with previously mentioned little sister when I could be writing a blog post?

Reading books, studying for finals, and writing blog posts are all excellent things to do. In fact, I partake of them quite regularly. But it’s also good to admire how your sister’s hair glows in the setting sun, to appreciate the cuteness of your brother’s off-key whistle, to let a four year old crawl all over you as you sway three feet off the ground.

A lot of times, I deny people my time and love, even in small increments, because I “have too much work to do.” It’s ultimately denying myself something good as well. There’s always more time to do that work, but my sister won’t be four forever. I won’t live with my siblings for much longer. Appreciating the little tiny things now is just as responsible a way to use time as is scribbling away at notes for a test.

Yes, sometimes we do have to ignore the little things in order to get our work done. But how often could we postpone the work for five minutes to trace a hand with a crayon, climb a tree, or walk down the street?

I’m not only talking about time with siblings – that’s just the biggest way little things are manifested in my life. Maybe a little thing for you would be reading a chapter of a book, actually tasting a few sips of morning coffee, or staring up at the clouds to think for a couple minutes.

The little things are good. They are refreshing. They stay in your memory and make you smile. People are often included in little things. A fifteen minute walk with my sister gives us time to talk. Sitting next to someone silently can be comfortable. The little things are what strengthen important relationships – the ones we don’t want to lose.

Little things are smelling the summer air, snuggling under a blanket at the end of the day, warming your hands by a bonfire in the middle of friends on a late July night.

What little things have crept into your life lately? Take a minute and enjoy them. You won’t regret it.

Kira

What are some of your favorite pockets of joy? Have you stopped for them lately?

From the Archives: Book Review: Crazy Love

I only read¬†Crazy Love a few months ago, but I’m already looking forward to reading it again someday.

Originally published: 5/23/17


There’s nothing quite like a book that makes you take a good hard look at yourself.¬†Crazy Love¬†is one of those books.

I mentioned¬†Crazy Love¬†a few weeks ago in a different¬†post¬†before I had finished reading it. Now that I’m done, I had to review it because I absolutely loved it.

Francis Chan’s¬†Crazy Love¬†is about how incredibly out of this world God’s love for us is. It comes through in His every action – from salvation to the creation of caterpillars. Our sin left us with no claim to His love, but He poured it over us anyway. By the bucket full. When we stop and actually try to fathom for a moment the depth of this love, we are left with no other reaction than to pour out our lives in service to Christ.

We have no reason to fear death, no reason to conform to this world, no reason to worry or stress or be caught up with ourselves. This life is about God, even though we’re the ones living it. Chan makes that incredibly clear in his book.

Crazy Love is not overly eloquent or complicated. While I usually enjoy finer language in a book, Chan made his point simple and I appreciate that in this case. Rather than detracting from the book, the simplicity of the writing allowed me to focus on the message and how it applies to me.

It took me awhile to reach the point spiritually where I can see the benefit of conviction when I first feel it, rather than wanting to run in the other direction, toward complacency. It has led to a deeper appreciation of books like¬†Crazy Love¬†and how God uses them in my life.¬†Francis Chan is not shy about saying that the church as a whole is not following God completely. But he doesn’t just leave it there. In “A Conversation With Francis Chan” at the end of the book, Chan stresses that he’s not attacking the church. Rather, he loves the church and wants to urge her to follow Christ’s calling.

“I’m not coming up with anything new. I’m calling people to go back to the way it was. I’m not bashing the church. I’m loving it.” (Crazy Love, pg 180)

Over all, Crazy Love was a convicting and, more importantly, encouraging read. It has led me to examine my own life and walk with God and to spend more time focusing on Him.

Kira

You can find Francis Chan on his blog: crazylove.org

And his Crazy Love website: crazylovebook.com

Have you read any convicting/encouraging books lately? Any that you can’t wait to read again?

You Can’t Handle This

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“Just remember, God won’t ever give you anything you can’t handle.”

Those words make me want to shake my head, groan, glare, and sigh. It’s one of the go-to statements of friends of the hurting and often pops up in Bible studies about suffering. And the words sound good. They really do. When I’m struggling and wrestling with something hard, it would be nice to believe that it’s all okay and God wouldn’t let it happen if I couldn’t handle it.

The problem, though, is that it’s just wrong. Of course God will give us things we can’t handle! In fact, that’s basically His plan for your whole life.

We were not created to be self-sufficient and able to do all things by our own power no matter the pain. Also, God does not take a look at us before sending something hard in order to evaluate how He thinks we’ll hold up.

God puts us through things we can’t handle on purpose because the benefits are light-years greater than the pain. When we are in the middle of something devastating is the time when we have to look to God to step in and deliver us. They are the times when our faith is stretched farther than we thought it could go and our Lord proves Himself once again.

If you think back over your life, aren’t the really difficult times the ones that made the biggest impact on who you are today? I couldn’t handle my little sister being taken away by my own strength, but my faith has grown. And aren’t they generally the times that are followed by God’s great provision?

We are made to need support, something that today’s culture is trying to erase from our minds. Feminism tells women that they are strong and independent and don’t need men to help them. Movies and books tell kids that they’re better off without their parents or teachers, who lack the intelligence to present themselves respectably.

The Bible tells us the exact opposite. It contains countless examples of community and fellowship. Paul traveled with lots of different people and mentioned how they helped him in his ministry and persecution in his epistles. Adam was given Eve as a companion and helpmeet. Even Jesus brought His disciples with Him.

More important than human community is community with God. As I read 1 Corinthians a few days ago, a verse really stuck out to me. Paul is talking about how there shouldn’t be any divisions in the church between people who want to follow him or Apollos or anyone else. We should all be following God. So he is explaining how the church is built and grows by God’s work through us.

For we are God’s fellow workers. – 1 Corinthians 3:9a

Very short, but very powerful. We are not called to brave this life on our own, fighting every villain and slaying every dragon. Our God is there for us and we are called to work alongside Him. How humbling is that?

God will give you things you can’t handle – you can be sure of that. But when He does, He’ll also help you through, which is infinitely more encouraging.

Kira

How did you grow or learn when God gave you something you couldn’t get through by yourself? How did it lead to where you are now?