Full and Thankful

For some time now I've dreamed of the most perfect Thanksgiving meal. There are long tables stretching from one side of the roof to the other, every inch of the bench seats filled with people I love most cozying together for warmth. The table glitters with just enough candles to light our faces, catching glimpses of the flowers and the piles of food. There's a song playing in the background, some kind of jazz, some kind of smooth. I can't hear what they're saying, but everyone's smiling. Their hands frame the things they can't quite say with words, or reach for another spoonful of homemade stuffing, or wrap around someone next to them. It's perfect. It's all perfect. In my head. 

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Lamenting: The Cornerstone of Praise

As someone who feels things deeply, I found myself on the floor of my door overwhelmed by the weight of living in a fallen world. I felt burdened by the brokenness around me and by the ignored hurts in my own life. I felt helpless under the weight of burdens I was carrying. And my friend, in this messy moment, spoke to me about lament. She gave me the book, Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah and it changed my life. I started to pursue knowledge of empathy and learned how to listen well. I became a student of grief, empathy, and lament. I learned about empathy from Brene Brown. I poured over laments in the Psalms and fell in love with the book of Job.

Years of hiding from my emotions and humanness started to find healing. I learned from my research, my studies, books of the Bible, my classes, the work of Soong-Chan Rah, and life that lament is necessary. Lament is the cornerstone of praise.

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Did I Not Pray Hard Enough?

I never doubted that prayer worked. But I doubted that my prayers did when I started to meet people who expected immediate results. People who put their hands on my wounds and prayed for healing until it came … or until I succumbed to eventually and told them, “No, it doesn’t hurt anymore.” 

"You have to believe this will work," said a man at work before he prayed over me. I'd simply said I'd come down with a bothersome little cold when he asked me how I was. The next thing I knew was his hand was on my forehead nearly trembling with the fervency of prayer. He was calling on God in a coffee shop parking lot like he was Elijah calling down fire from God. And after a breathy, drawn out "Amen.", I sneezed. Did God fail? Or did my belief?

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My Mother's Eyes

But somewhere between Serena and now, Jesus found me. He showed me this chubby former tomboy had a beauty in her heart. He showed me I didn't need dates or special hairspray. My beauty was curated by His Spirit living in me. My natural beauty was worth preserving and advocating for. I didn't need makeup to feel complete. I didn't need straightened hair to be accepted by others. I didn't need anything more than what He had already given me.

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I Don't Trust That God Won't Hurt Me

Yes, I trust in God. But as I carry all these broken pieces and tears are relentless down my face, I don’t trust that God won’t hurt me. I pause in shock as the thought slips and my facade of perfect Christianity is dropped between God and I (as if I can hide anything from Him) lay all my cards on the table. I don’t trust your calls.

Are you in this? Have you forgotten me? How could all these random losses, closed doors, and no’s have any divine purpose beyond this mess?

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God in the Therapy Room

For years I had studied and practiced (and studied some more) learning about the field of psychology. I had the privilege of traveling around the world while utilizing my degree, studying under wonderful professors, and even receiving a master’s degree. However, no matter how many textbooks I may read, I find constantly that life is not a textbook. In recent years of counseling individuals, families, and couples the most important lesson I’ve learned is that God’s presence in the therapy room is essential. 

Being a therapist and sitting with patients in the midst of the storms of life is one of the most difficult parts of my job. In the midst of suffering we usually start with questions such as, “God, what are you doing?” We often pray “Is this season over yet?” or “Is this part over yet?”. I don’t know what season you are in today, but I desire for you to know that you have a God who is with you, in every season of life including the hard places.

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My Miscarriage Story

In honor of October being over we are sharing three miscarriage / infant loss stories that we curated on our Instagram for this month. Join us in weeping and celebrating with Sarah, Cristin, and Taylor as they open their hearts and hands to the Lord’s plans. The Bible says there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. Each of these stories share how God was there in the darkness and led them back to the light.

If you are experiencing the pains of miscarriage or infant loss, we are here to pray for you and talk with you. One out of four women experience either one. And we know the church is not exempt from that statistic. Our heart is to share more so healing can happen more. Praying for your heavy hearts friends.

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Photostory: Always a Reason to Seek

Wave after wave of emotion washed over me as I immersed myself in the culture for three weeks; I felt sadness, incredible joy, heaviness, elation, awe, and hope (to name a few). My experience in Kenya challenged me in innumerable ways and broadened my perspective of what it means to have a relationship with God.

I saw God move and I saw people respond.

Visiting churches, staying at an orphanage/school, and interacting with locals opened my eyes to the kindness and deep hurt of the people here. However, it is because of this hurt, poverty, longing, destruction, and brokenness that they have such admirably firm faith. They rely on God for their next meal, they rely on God for a roof over their head, they rely on God for income, they rely on God for medical attention — and miracles happen.

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To All the (Best Friends) I Loved Before

Now, I’m no Laura Jean Covey (she's way cooler than I am), but sometimes it sounds really amazing to write a letter to all of my ex-best friends. Maybe to rehash how we ended our sweet sisterhoods, maybe to rewrite old wounds into little bruises to keep them in my favorites, or maybe to just say, “Wow I miss you and I'm so thankful for you.”

I don’t think we give enough credit to the hurt a dear friend leaves when you or they leave.

It hurts. And it's a deep hurt.

I started listing their names, starting in kindergarten and I got to mid-high school when it really hurt. And my eyes started swelling. I couldn’t type past my best friend from high school’s name because honestly, I never really mourned that it ended. Can you think of friendships that sounds like that? Did you lock those feelings in a box and slide them under the bed? Yeah, me too.

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Whispers and Storms

As night neared in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the sky melted into a display of vibrant purple, pinks, and orange. A fishing boat appeared to be chasing it, finishing up the summer season as August bleeds into September. The vessel broke through the water gently and became a silhouette on a greater canvas. Classic Alaska, showing off again.

This view became my daily view for a precious week this summer when I traded triple digit temperatures for sweatshirt weather, sand in Chacos for Xtra-Tuff rain boots on the rocky coastline. I had spent all of 2018 preparing for the Harvester Island Wilderness Writing Workshop. After encouragement from friends and family, I finally took the leap. I would return to my roots in Alaska to participate in a week long writing workshop.

I came knowing that regardless of what I learned at the workshop, it would be life changing. Yes, I might not leave with a fully drawn out book plan, but I felt it inside me–– I must go.

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