I Doubted the Power of My Story

When I was in high school I was constantly surrounded by one youth group speaker after another, each with a powerful testimony of how they came to know Christ after some dark and troublesome time in their life.  Each person had a heavy story – a life of drug dependency, a life of running from the law, a life of selling their body, a life of anger and hatred, a life trapped in a cult – and all of these intense stories ended the same.  In the end, they all had a radical encounter with discovering Christ their Savior, they turned 180 degrees and life was drastically different.

Each of these stories felt incredible; I often was met with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I heard of God’s saving, redemption plan for these lives that were deep in muck and mire.  I was in awe.  God is good!  And look at these incredible people, look at them going around and telling of the gospel of Jesus, of the one who saved them from their pits.

But also, then… what about me?  What about my story and my testimony of how I came to know my Savior? I was a “good girl” and always had been.  I’d grown up in a loving Christian home with two parents who always pointed me back to Jesus.  I’d known the name of Jesus for as long as my memory served me.  I told myself that because of the limited drama in my life that I would never be a speaker giving my testimony to a youth group crowd. What in the world did I have to share?!  I didn’t have some wild “before” life!  I didn’t feel like I had a testimony that anyone would care to hear. It only takes two seconds to say “I’ve known Jesus all of my life,” and who would sit before me to listen to that?  I doubted the importance of my testimony – one of a life rooted and with a foundation of knowing Christ since birth.  I doubted that it mattered one bit in the pool of all of the awe-inspiring tales of conversion out there.  Frankly, I doubted the power of Christ to show up and be revealed in a story as mundane as my own.

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I remember when the time came in my college group when we were asked to take turns sharing our testimonies with the group.  I asked the leader, “but what if you don’t have a testimony?  What if you don’t have anything to share?” I didn’t doubt the goodness of God in my life which had been constant and steady, but I doubted what felt like His lack of display of power in my life.

I didn’t have a gripping story.  I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment.  Did I even have a “real” testimony?   My lifelong knowledge of Jesus, who He is, and what He always did for me didn’t feel exciting or gripping, it just was.

At some point in those early college years, I realized that it was enough.  More than enough.  My story may not be one for the books or speaking engagements but my story is just as powerful as the one who came out of a life of addiction or a life of utter brokenness.

My story is powerful because it drips with the power of God: His power to save me from all of the muck and mire that I didn’t have to walk through, His power of steadfastness to walk beside me as a constant for all of my life, His power to be a strong and firm foundation, laying the brickwork for the mess that my adult life can sometimes look like.

Kayla Anderson Doubt

Today, I don’t doubt the power of my testimony or the power of Christ through my seemingly mundane story.  I don’t doubt that He can and will use it, boring as it may seem.  I’m not discouraged by my come to Jesus moment being something that feels like it ought to be more.  After all, it’s not me and my mess that the power and glory comes from.  The power is in Him alone and His saving grace – His grace over my sin-filled life.  A life where, despite being “a good girl”, I am still a sinner, just as in need of a Savior as the girl whose life was more outwardly messy or had a more exciting story.

I no longer doubt the power of my testimony, for I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  I am saved by His grace; there is nothing which can snatch me up out of His loving hands and that is a mighty display of His power in my life.  Thanks be to God for saving a sinner like me.

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The Curriculum of Character

I found myself heavily contemplating less formal curriculum questions as I spent the last month of summer preparing for the start of our fourth year of home education with our four children.  Many questions I had centered around the core concept of “Who are we in this home?” Also, “Who and what do we serve in this home?  What characteristics do we need to learn about and strive towards this year?”  

While I’ve piled high a collection of teaching tools for Math, Language Arts, Science, and Spanish, I’ve also piled along with the teaching tools for manners, etiquette, and most importantly, Godly characteristic traits. I’ve watched my children, particularly my two oldest, grow in their knowledge and understanding this past year of homeschool.  I’ve watched them start to master different primary concepts, and I remember each time that I realized they had learned something new.

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I cherish the memories of when my oldest started reading with fluidity, and when my middle son started using addition on his own accord. I couldn’t believe that they had learned it. I did not doubt their intelligence, but I felt I lacked as a sufficient teacher.  Surely I didn’t do much in helping them actually learn something … did I?!

While I often feel they learned despite me, I know that it was my instruction and, more importantly, my example which taught my children these life skills.  This realization was both awesome and terrifying as I then questioned, “What else are they learning from me just from my example?!”

With this realization, I knew I needed to place higher importance this school year on life skills of manners, etiquette, and Godly characteristic traits – just as much for myself as for them.  If they are learning from what I am modeling, I’d better be something I’d want them to model after!

I started by asking my husband and myself what those things we hoped to teach and model to our children were; we had to determine the core values and traits for the six of us dwelling in our home.  We needed to determine what it looked like to have a Christ-centered home, to have a home which served the Lord.

For our family, we’ve landed on these characteristics, based on several verses, to point our children to Jesus in our goal of living in a Christ-centered home:

Love:  Firstly and most importantly, our family must be rooted in love.  Love Jesus, love each other, and love others.

  • 1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
  • 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
  • Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Kindness & Grace:  Our family ought to speak, behave and think kindly and have grace with each other.

  • Ephesians 1:7 “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
  • Titus 3:4 “But – When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

 

Kayla Anderson Home

Honest & Faithful:  Our family ought to be honest at all times and faithful with all things.

  • Proverbs 28:6 “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich.”
  • Proverbs 28:23 “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”
  • Luke 16:10,12 “If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.  But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. . . And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”

 

Servant-hearted: Our family ought to be servant-hearted toward family, friends, and strangers.

  • Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.  But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
  • Philippians 2:3-5 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

 

Obedient: Our family ought to be obedient quickly, without delay, to parents, and to the Lord.

  • Proverbs 19:20 “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.”
  • Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for it is the right thing to do.”
  • Jeremiah 42:6 “Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea.  For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”

 

Forgiveness: Our family ought to seek and extend forgiveness to all.

  • Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
  • Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There are many Godly characteristics worth highlighting, but for our family and our home, these are the ones we have determined to focus on. I’ve printed and laminated a sheet of these characteristics and verses and now have it hanging on our command center in the heart of our homeschool room.  I am starting this new school year eager to dive into these traits further, practice them more, and although sometimes painful, be held accountable to my own characteristics which I seek to model for the little disciples who dwell in our home.

 


 

Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

He Told Me I was a Mistake; God said Otherwise

It was spoken over me like a puncture in my lungs, letting all the air out and causing me to gasp for breath. “I regret marrying you. This was the worst mistake of my life.” We’d been married for three weeks by the first time I heard those words spoken to me and it was far from the last. I was 19 when I first heard that spoken over me: Our marriage was a mistake. I was a mistake.

I was only a teenager, one who still was figuring out what my identity was and more importantly, who was the foundation of my identity and where my identity was rooted. Yet there I stood, amidst trying to sort it all out and suddenly I was being shaken. Vigorously.

Everything I thought I had established of who I was, stood feebly by while being threatened. I was a daughter, a sister, a friend to a melting pot of genres in school, a “good person”, a rule follower, a Christian, an A-student, a fun-loving girl who was playful and adventurous, and had just shortly before, proudly added “wife” to that list. I had a whole lot of security within that list and was feeling pretty comfortable with what I deemed as my identity.

Identity Kayla Anderson (1)

That comfort was quickly being challenged as the one who was the closest to me, the one who was meant to be my protector and fight for me started adding more words than I ever had thought to include in that list: controlling, the crazy one, not as pretty as the girls online, a terrible wife… a mistake.

It wasn’t more than a quick breath after I learned of his unfaithfulness in our marriage, that I started adding more of my own words to the list: fat, ugly, not good enough, undeserving, worthless, a used piece of trash tossed to the side. Just like that, my identity (or what I believed my identity to be) had morphed into something unrecognizable.

As our marriage crumbled and I was left to try to pick up the leftover pieces of my life, I started sorting through that list. Was I really fat and ugly? Was I really the one who was crazy? Was it actually my fault that he was unfaithful to me? And God, God, am I really worthless?! Will anyone else ever want me?! I had heard “worthless” and believed it for so long that I really had begun to accept and project it over my life.

It had so far seeped into my own list of my identity that as I sat in my parents’ back yard that late summer afternoon as our marriage broke, I began to weep as I talked to my mom about where my life was at. As I told her I didn’t want to get divorced because I had always committed to being a faithful wife but simultaneously felt so worthless and that my marriage was so far beyond repair and that there was nothing I could do to help it. I still so distinctly remember the words coming out of my mouth between sobs, dropped heavy as lead from the weight of my despair, “Mom, I feel so helpless, so isolated and so worthless that I don’t know what to do to get out of this mess and don’t know how to make my life better. . . I’ve thought a lot about just taking my own life to end it all.”

Within a couple days of that conversation, I was moved into my parents’ house and my ex-husband and I started the divorce process. In so many late nights sitting alone in the room of my childhood home, crying to God, to my Redeemer, I prayed and asked Him to redeem my identity. “God, what is left of me? Who do you say I am?”

One night, so late that it had now become the wee hours of the morning, I cried out, pleading, “God! Show me I have worth!” I so desperately needed God to repair the broken identity that had for so long been spoken over me and that I had started to believe about myself. I reached over to grab the Bible nearest to me, which was The Message (paraphrased version). I flipped it open and looked down. My eyes stopped on Luke 1:28. Right there, right in the dark of the long painful night-turned-morning, my eyes caught this verse. Like the wind being put right back into my lungs and my puncture wound being healed in a moment, my breath filled with life again as I read,

 

“Good morning!

You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,

Beautiful inside and out!

God be with you.”

 

As I read and took those words of life in, I could feel myself begin to heal and transform right there,  as I cried to God to come in and redeem – to remind me of His truth about my identity.

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I’m beautiful. Beautiful inside and out. God is with me. I am a child of God. I am full of worth – I’ve been bought with a price. I am secure. I am loved. I am redeemed.

Thank you, Lord, for who you say that I am. Thank you for the secure identity found in you.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

The Enneagram, Marriage, and Me

The Enneagram personality types are being talked about a lot lately. It seems to be the hot topic of personal growth. The types have been at the forefront of my mind since my church held a conference on The Enneagram a few months ago. My understanding is that the “Enneagram of Personality” was first coined by a Chilean psychiatrist and different religions have since adopted it within their own beliefs. For my husband and myself, we have never had anything so accurately and deeply detail out who we each are. Exploring our authentic selves(that which is a reflection of a particular aspect of God’s character) and our adapted selves (that which has adapted to living in our sinful and fallen world) has been informative and entertaining.

If you know anything about the Enneagram, I am a Type 1. One’s are described as perfectionists, high standards, “the good person”, integrity, hard-working, self-controlled, purposeful and our adapted self can be judgmental. While these are all words I would’ve used to describe myself, it’s also a little painful when reading that last word.

Conviction Kayla Anderson

Much of the time growing up, I heard from family that I am too blunt, too judgmental, too condemning. I remember a few occasions of people being upset with me specifically for my strongly held values. For years, more than any other area of growth, I’ve thought about it, prayed about it, asked God to help me, and have tried hard within my own fallen human life to change that last word. I don’t want it to be a word that describes me. I want desperately for people around me to feel comfortable, relaxed and not judged.

Especially in our world today, it feels like being judgmental of anyone else and their life choices is one of the worst things you could do. A crowd will instantly dislike you when you show the slightest hint of intolerance. Which can make it hard to stand up for what is right.

I keep asking myself “what is the difference between judgment and conviction?” Judgment is the act of an opinion or decision judging right or wrong of someone else. Conviction is a strongly held personal belief of your own. The Enneagram Institute describes One’s as “people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.” What gets me into trouble is when my strongly held convictions move towards judgment of someone else who doesn’t hold the same convictions that I do.

This has been particularly interesting in my marriage to a man who is a Type 7. Seven’s are extroverted, playful, optimistic, spontaneous, constantly seeking new experiences and are red-tape pushers. Friends, let me just tell you plainly now, the disagreements between Strong-Convictions Girl and Red-Tape Pushing Guy are usually of the same theme: whether something is right or wrong to do. We have such different convictions and different ideas of right and wrong that at times I wonder how in the world we paired up. I’m definitely a “let’s find out the rules first” kind of lady and he’s more of a “let’s just do it and we’ll ask for forgiveness later if we find out that it was wrong” kind of man.

I have often told my husband that his red-tape pushing is the source of anxiety in my strict rule following world. This is exactly where I’ve had to be stretched, learn and practice what it means to have some vastly different convictions than someone else. Even someone I’m married to and partner up with to parent our four young children. It’s been a place of both of us needing to learn how to discuss decisions ahead of time, come up with a compromise between both of our extremes, and feel the stretching of our own distinct personalities while giving space for the other person. We both have convictions – they just aren’t always the same. I’ve had to learn that just because I personally feel convicted about something, it doesn’t mean it’s as black and white as it feels in my mind. It doesn’t mean that it is wrong, it means that I personally feel convicted about it one way or the other.

Kayla Anderson Conviction

Convictions without judgment of others can be a wildly freeing and anxiety-filled place. In that place, these verses have been helpful to hold onto:

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your hap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38

I’m not typically an anxiety-filled woman but I feel it rise when I am standing, holding my tongue, and watching my husband do something I personally feel a different conviction about. But there has been such freedom in keeping impulsive words back, not passing along judgment for my convictions, and letting my husband be who he is – the thrill seeker and adventurer. He has a good heart, smart mind, and is an excellent leader of our family. We are learning from each other: I’m learning from him how to just stop and play, and he’s learning from me how to play by the rules. That’s the deep beauty I’ve found in the freedom from keeping my convictions from being opposed on those around me and trusting the Lord to guide us both.

 

**If you want to learn more about the Enneagram types, look into The Enneagram Institute. For a wonderful Christian perspective on the types and how each type reflects different aspects of God’s character, a great read is the book “Self to Lose, Self to Find” by Marilyn Vancil.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

Celebrating as a Family

As we approach August, my husband and I are anticipating the biggest celebration we’ve yet to experience during our entire time of knowing one another.  Yes, we do have four kids and each of those birthdays was a celebration – but I only carried each child for nine months.  This, this has been carried, prayed through, cried through, struggled through, cheered through and anticipated since two weeks after we met ten years ago.  It’s been ten intensive years since starting this long journey (when neither of us knew what we were saying “yes” to) for my husband to become a family nurse practitioner.

These years have been filled with much life, much heartache, much celebration and much trial.  We’ve moved four times, bought our first house, had four children, started homeschooling for our oldest kids, had job changes, finished one degree just to turn around and start the next, had family struggles, had money struggles, and had a lot of loneliness.  So many good and hard aspects of life have happened in these ten years but as I look forward to the next two months, I see so much worth celebrating.

Celebrate Kayla Anderson

I see my husband, his dedication to schooling, and his heart for being able to serve others in a wholesome way in the health field. I want to celebrate that beautiful vision, determination, and strength to follow what he felt called to.  I see my children who are understanding life in deeper ways because their dad is amazing at devoting special time to them. I see their hearts yearning for more of that, the day coming over the horizon when he won’t have to spend endless days studying at the local coffee shop.  I want to celebrate their great attitudes, perseverance, and that they are almost there, too!  I see my days of solo parenting changing and looking differently after August.  I celebrate having my partner coming alongside me in fuller ways as we work through many more of our parenting years!

I see both our family time and our bank account being less stretched.  I am celebrating the idea of less stretching and more of the fun family outings that my adventure-seeking family thrives on!  I see so much good in store for us after these long 10 years of often painful hard work, taking the next steps in obedience and waiting for the graduation date to near.  But just as my time always came for childbirth, there will be a day arriving soon where the intense schooling is in the past, where we can hardly remember any of the pain and struggle but only the celebration of graduation day.

John 16:21 “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”

So, when those friends and family ask what we’ll be doing in August when he’s done – despite conflicting feelings of “is it silly to celebrate a college graduation when you’re 32?” or feelings that after so much isolation from schooling, he may not even really have friends anymore – I eagerly tell them, “we’re going to celebrate!”

Yes, we are going to celebrate.  I don’t know much else about what we’ll be doing aside from that, but I do know we are going to call up all our friends and family and gather everyone who has been on this journey with us and we are going to celebrate this long and hard season coming to a close. We are going to celebrate what the Lord has set out before my husband to accomplish.  We are going to celebrate that we have seen blessings even in the trials of this long season.  We are going to celebrate lessons, hard work, and perseverance that we have been taught as a whole family.  We are going to celebrate that we’ve never lost hope in His plan because God has given us all strength and endurance.

All the while of anticipating and preparing for this celebration time, the verse that keeps coming to my mind is Psalm 34:8a, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” This Psalm is an invitation from David to trust in the Lord.  To celebrate in what the Lord has done for us.

Kayla Anderson Celebration

My family has waited, pursued and trusted in a calling from the Lord.  And now?  Now we are so eager to celebrate what the Lord has done for us, to give thanks to Him.  As we get near the end, we are getting a taste of what life will be like on the other side of graduation and there is no doubt, the Lord is good.


 Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.
Photo Credit: Pexels and Pixabay

Fasting to Fill Up

Being an adult in this current world can feel burdensome at times.  No longer are we graced with the carefree days of running amuck with the neighborhood kids, or squealing with delight as games of tag or backyard baseball are played.  Those days are often replaced with big daunting tasks that come at us, crippling us, creating fear or anxiety, panic, or a depressed feeling. Big things like job losses, tax troubles, parenting heartache or uncertainty, friendship woes, marital relationships in the trenches or failing, and when these trials come, we can often be left feeling helpless, inadequate, unsure of the next step or unwilling to take that next step because it just feels too easy to fall.  

Kayla Anderson Hunger and thirstOften my first solution can be to talk.  I’m a verbal processor so I just want to talk with anyone and everyone about what situation is going on in my life.  Talk to my best friends – they’ll comfort me, hug me, let me cry, and give me encouragement. Talk to my husband – he’ll try to offer a solution because solutions and resolution come so naturally to him.  Talk to my dad – he’ll offer me wisdom and advice because so much has happened in his life that is mirrored in my own so he’s likely been there.

Sometimes my first solution is to just put my head down, pull up my boot straps and start at it to just get through the daunting, overwhelming life task at hand because I’m a hardworker and just like to get things done.  I’m a bandaid ripper; just do it and get it over with. So often, that’s my mindset.

Not often enough is my first solution to pause and pray.  Yet when I read the Bible, so frequently I am shown that prayer and even fasting (voluntarily abstaining from eating while devoting time to prayer or reading the Bible) is the first and best solution for many of those men and women.  As Jesus himself was entering into ministry, he fasted.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” – Luke 4:1-4

Jesus was referring to fasting, relying less on himself and his solutions but relying more on God.  I remember spending a few days as a youth group attendee doing some preset fasting as a group but never in my adult life have I devoted a day to fasting.  Not because I don’t know the Biblical principle of fasting or because I don’t want to – that just honestly isn’t something my mind is trained to think about.

David Mathis wrote, “Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen.  He doesn’t say ‘if’ but ‘when you fast’ (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).  We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age.  We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God – and we are desperately hungry for more of him.”

Hunger and thirst Kayla AndersonEsther was a woman in the Bible with arguably one of the most daunting life tasks laid at her feet – a task that could literally take her life.  Esther was Queen when her cousin Mordecai (both Jews) learned of the king’s orders to “destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews – young and old, women and little children” (Esther 3:13).  Mordecai told her “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Do you know what Esther’s first solution to this huge life task was?  It wasn’t to immediately talk it out with friends, her husband (the king), or even Mordecai, her family.  It wasn’t to just pull up her bootstraps or attempt to just jump in and try to save the Jews with her own wisdom and judgment.  Esther’s first solution was to pray and fast.

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”  – Esther 4:16

I am challenged and encouraged to make my next “first solution” to a big life task to spend time in prayer via fasting.  To take the Esther approach. The Moses approach (Exodus 34:28). The Jesus approach. To make my life one that is not relying on bread alone but fully relying on God.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

 

Knowing Love

Some 16 years ago, back in high school, I remember one of my good friends speaking about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’d all heard it many times; “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” Yes, we knew all that well. They are great verses but it was nothing of news to me; I’d heard it preached many times already. Those specific verses had even just played a big role in one of the hit films “A Walk to Remember.” Except this time, instead of where the film had depicted the verses in relation to love between humans, my friend was relating the verse directly to God and his character. He was explaining that God and love are synonymous. God IS love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

Kayla Anderson Character of GodThat connection was new to me. I knew God is love. It’s one of the most talked about character traits of God but never had I considered using the words synonymously and in exchange for one another so effortlessly in that manner. And so, my friend read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to us in this way,

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.


All of the sudden, looking at those verses (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying scripture isn’t perfect as it is but this was simply a thought change) made them mean something deeper to me. Since the new revelation I had that day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have always been life verses to me – verses to live by, for I know that we were created in the image of God and these verses have no grey area of who God is and what his character is like. Verses that were cut and dry of what I was to model my life after, truth about God and who he was, is, and will always be. Not only that, but they remind me that he is a God that is for me and not against me – which I need to remember in the midst of challenges, both minuscule and mountainous.

About a year ago, I found a wood sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 painted on it. I picked it up and brought it home with me. Without much thought, I hung it up on a wall in my home that had the right space for it. It didn’t dawn on me till much later that the wall I chose to hang it on was the most central wall in my house – one that was in the middle and central point of the six lives dwelling in our home. On a wall that supports and holds our home in place soundly. A perfect spot for the encouragement and reminder that God is Love and what we should be modeling our lives after.

Character of God Kayla AndersonReminding me to have patience when my kids have spilled milk for the fifth time that day (because sometimes it’s hard to not cry over the spilled milk). Patience for the baby clinging to my heels.

Reminding me to do as I always tell my kids, which is to “use kind words in a kind voice,” even when it’s asking the same thing of them for the tenth time. Or to be gentle and kind to all those which I encounter, whether in my home as guests or as soon as I step out of it, because I don’t know what mountains or valleys they are walking through in their life.

Reminding me to not be self-seeking and looking after what I want to do – but to serve my family eagerly.

Reminding me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs when in conversation with my husband. To not dwell on past hurts from my husband, my friends, family or even the mail lady, but to release them and truly keep no score sheet, no tally marks – no record of wrongs.

Reminding me to keep faith in all things because there is always protection, trust, hope and perseverance in him. Because if God IS love, then God never ever fails.

And that’s the kind of God that I can put my faith in.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.

 

Out of the Bondage of Bitterness

I had the perfect recipe brewing for letting bitterness take root, for letting it fester, consume me by taking over my thoughts, and even for seeking revenge. I believe most people wouldn’t have blamed me if I had taken any one or all of those actions. After all, I did have a husband who had been unfaithful to me.

A husband who had, not just once, but repeatedly for nearly the entire length of our two-year marriage chosen other women over me. People would have understood my anger. My bitterness. My unforgiveness of “the big one” in marriage.

Kayla Anderson BitternessThankfully, before I knew what was to be in the coming days, the Lord knew the path my life would take and only three weeks into marriage, He led me to sneak into the back row of the church my dad was a youth pastor at while he was speaking to a group of teenagers. Dad’s message for that night about all about forgiveness. He shared a story about a friend he had who repeatedly hurt him in the same way over and over again. Dad shared that he had learned to forgive ahead of time – anticipating another similar hurt, he prepared in his heart that he would forgive again before it even happened.

I purposed to take that nugget of wisdom and store it. The first time I learned about the unfaithfulness of my ex-husband, I was shaken to my core. I didn’t expect it or anticipate it; I never saw it coming. However, I chose to forgive as my husband wept and repented. And then I recalled what Dad had said – and I decided to box up and store away some forgiveness for any future offenses of this nature.

A few weeks later, I found myself reaching into the forgiveness box again (and all too quickly again and again, and about every 2 or 3 weeks for the remainder of our marriage). This all continued for two years until finally my ex-husband ultimately decided that he really did think his life would just be better off without me in it.

In the aftermath of this all, I had some girlfriends astonished that I would go through this ordeal over and over with him for two years. “Why are you putting up with that!?” “Why are you not just so angry with him?” “Why do you keep forgiving him and giving him more chances when he keeps hurting you like that?” they would ask me.

Why? Well, because God is the God of forgiveness. Because God is the God of healing and of restoration. And because I wanted those things He offered so much more than I wanted to hold onto anger or bitterness. God didn’t tell us to forgive one time and only give one more chance – He just simply instructed and called us to forgive.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘ I  tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Bitterness Kayla AndersonForgiveness does not always mean that you have to stay but it does mean that you have to choose to release all of the emotions binding up your heart and mind. I wasn’t certain of our future but I had chosen to fight for our marriage until the choice was out of my hands and decided by the other person in my marriage. I wanted to choose forgiveness over and over again, regardless of how “foolish” that might lookto the rest of the world. Beth Moore, one of my favorite authors, wrote that “forgiveness may be excruciating for a moment, but anger and bitterness are excruciating for a lifetime.” I wanted wholeness and healing from the pain and sought it with my whole heart, broken as it was. I wanted to be free of the bondage of bitterness or anger that could take root in my life and spread like weeds if I allowed it.

“Keep a sharp eye out for the weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” Hebrews 12:15, The Message

We all battle hurt feelings, being let down, feeling betrayed, humiliated or angry at the hand of another person. However, it’s our choice of how we are going to handle those feelings. I knew I didn’t want to nurse a grudge and refuse to forgive. I knew that choosing to not forgive him would cost me a whole lot more than it would cost my ex-husband.

Bitterness is willfully choosing to hold on to hurt or angry feelings and forgiveness is willfully choosing to release it. Because while sometimes it can feel like we are unable to or justified in choosing not to forgive, sometimes we need to realize that we are simply unwilling to forgive. Just as loving someone is a choice, so is the act of forgiveness because that’s exactly what it is – an act, not a feeling.

I didn’t feel forgiving towards my ex-husband. You know what I really felt? I felt angry, betrayed, humiliated and like a used piece of trash just tossed to the wayside. I felt hurt that he had not taken his marriage vows as seriously as I took them and that I was now going to be a 21-year- old divorcee, used and abused, and without the life companion that I so deeply longed for.

However, feelings aside, I deeply wanted that healing from the Lord which would bring wholeness again. That redemption for my life and my story. I begged God to take my broken heart, to fill in the cracks and smooth them out again. To move towards having a healthy heart again, I knew it needed to start with forgiveness and releasing any potential of bitterness in my current situation. Though I didn’t feel it, I needed to act upon it.

Forgiveness is an act of surrender: surrendering to God’s will, God’s instruction, and God’s plan for redemption. We don’t have the ability in ourselves to forgive others but God can empower us to extend forgiveness, even in the hardest of situations where we are left feeling completely shipwrecked by the actions of another. Something we often can misunderstand is that forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s not agreeing or condoning what happened, it’s an acceptance of what has happened and then releasing it to the Lord in exchange of healing.

Forgiveness is a gift that God has given us to free ourselves of the bondage of bitterness and control that someone else had over our life. Forgiveness is a gift because Jesus died on the cross for us to forgive us of our sins.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Friends, did you catch that? We all have great potential to want to hold on to our wounds inflicted upon us and let them fester…but we don’t have to. So rather than clinging to bitterness, offense and resentment, may we all learn to cling to the forgiveness and healing of our wounds which is found in Jesus. For by His wounds, we are healed.


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.