JUNE QUESTIONS

Good Morning and Happy June to ya!

I drove home with an awesome lady from a retreat yesterday and she said something to the effect of, "Did May even happen?" 

May can feel this way- transitioning from school to summer, one grade to another, cooler to warmer temperatures. 

So here we are in June. Thank you for your grace (and even a couple of you cheering me on!) as I take some space and margin in May and June. 

All of June's questions can be found below.

I'll be back in July with some exciting new things to report :) :)

6/5 Where are you feeling stuck?

 

6/9 When was the last time you sat still enough to listen to God's voice?

 

6/12 What is one outrageous thing you want to do this summer but you're too scared to try?

 

6/16 What are you avoiding these days?

 

6/19 Where do you need to give yourself a little extra grace (or receive the grace that is already yours from God?)

 

6/23 How do you recharge? Do you know? How often do you do it?

 

6/26 What was the last thing that made you cry in a good way?

 

6/29 Who needs a phone call today? Not just a text but a phone call?

 

I love you all and cannot wait to connect in July!

MAY QUESTIONS

Time for a mini-break this summer.

Time for a mini-break this summer.

What a God we serve. He's been teaching me so much. So much. He's been moving things around in my heart. I have been dreaming with him and asking him to do what only he can do. 

One of my favorites, Bob Goff, talks about how he quits something every Thursday- to which I usually think, "Sure, when you're YOU, exceptionally quirky and unafraid- you can do what you want. But me? I can't quit anything. I owe people this, that and the other." 

But it turns out we do have decision-making power over our lives. 

So I'm quitting bi-weekly emails for the next two months. Not because I don't love them- but because I need a little breather and maybe you do too?  I am talking May and June to continue to write- but not on the blog. God has put some things on my heart and I need a little space to be able obediently get thoughts down. 

Don't worry if you're not needing a breather. I've got you! Here are questions for the rest of May: A chance to reflect every Monday and Friday: 

5/8 WHO INSPIRES YOU? WHY?

5/12 IF YOU COULD THROW A PARTY TOMORROW FOR SOMEONE- WHO WOULD IT BE FOR AND WHY? 

5/15 HOW ARE YOU ENERGIZED? 

5/19 WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU FELT ENERGIZED? WHAT CAUSED YOU TO FEEL THAT WAY?

5/22 WHERE HAVE YOU SEEN BEAUTY IN HUMANITY LATELY? 

5/26 WHAT IS A SETTING THAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO SOMETHING CREATIVE?

5/29 WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO THAT COULD BE CONSIDERED CREATIVE? DO YOU DO IT OFTEN? WHY/WHY NOT?

Those Two Magic Words

5/5 Who do you need to thank today for something so gloriously 'everyday'?

Grateful people are my favorite people. They abolish discontentment, take notice of others and seem to hover somewhere above their circumstances. 

Humans are creatures of habit. We love routine and thrive when there is a sense of predictability in and around us. There are people we see, acknowledge, and work alongside who do (and say) very similar things day in and day out. We could live a lifetime rubbing elbows with people and never actually take the time to thank them. 

So today, I'm going to write my postman a note. Seems appropriate doesn't it? I don't know this gentleman's name and yet he is the sweetest man. There are consistently about two thousand cars that park on our street (if you have ever babysat for us- you know this.) Almost daily he has to park his truck and get out just to get to our street-side mailbox. If I happen to be outside in the front yard with the girls he has smiles every single time. His kindness outweighs any letter, any package he's delivered to us. 

I'm noticing him. And I'm going to thank him. I hope to learn his name too. 

It's a gloriously everyday thing to deliver mail- and our postman deserves an out-of-my-way thank you for the ways he delivers it. 

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
— Colossians 4:2

What about you? How can you be watchful and thankful today? Will a barista get a special thank you? A teacher? A dry-cleaning employee? An exceptional bagger at Trader Joe's? Who do you need to look in the eye and thank for the 'everyday'? 

Where Is God Most Present?

5/1: Where is God's presence unmistakable?

Of course, when it comes to this question, the 'right' answer is- God is present at all times, everywhere, forever and without ceasing. (Read Psalm 139:7-10 to be sure.) However, he has uniquely wired us with bents, preferences and personal, receptive stories. Often the best parts of our spiritual journeys are the times we most vividly, tangibly feel his presence. There may only be a handful of these times: the moments we know (that we know that we know) without doubt or mistake that God is real. 

I want to know if you have a certain place. A place of such richness of history, beauty, sacredness or meaning that you can't help but feel God the moment you walk in, sit down, or inhale. 

My number one is the water. 

Streams, lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, downpours, even an exceptional puddle. I feel the presence of God by the water. 

My warmest childhood memories revolve around my grandma's pool. The clean smell of chlorine, the splashing, the diving, the coconutty sunscreen, the almost-shocking cool of the water and the hug of the sun-warmed beach towel. Everything about the pool and the water brought joy to me.

These days, I have the audacity to call the Pacific Ocean part of my 'home.' When I need a deep breath of the grandness of God or a wordless reassurance of the grace of Jesus, I go to the ocean. My last beach visit, it took a good thirty minutes to unwind from life. There, in the unwound, exposed and palpable places of my heart, I felt God so clearly. Unmistakably. 

My number two is the church I grew up going to. Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. 

This is new actually. Every since my parents told me the story of their own conversion and 'all-in' dive with God, that piece of land in South Barrington, IL has become holy ground for me. I go back and walk the campus and think about how little Kristin's first 'God thoughts' were formed within these walls, among these trees, walking-to-and-from the parking lot. The history of my parents' walk of faith and the building-block composition of my own story are traced back there. God. Unmistakably. 

What about you? Where do you feel God the most? And more importantly, when was the last time you were there? When do you have plans to go again?

Do You Pray for Yourself?

4/28 What are you praying for yourself these days? 

I get a lot of coffee (tea) with people. I sit down across small, coffeeshop tables from countless people every year. Routinely, I will ask to end the time in prayer. Only recently have I gotten accustomed to asking the person I'm meeting with to close in prayer for herself. In the past, I would ask what they needed prayer for and then regurgitate to the Lord in my own words. But there's something holy, rich and special about getting let-in to one's personal prayer life.

We shy away from self-prayers because we think we sound selfish. But can I tell you something? No one needs prayer more than me. No one needs prayer more than you. We all need it. In good seasons and treacherous ones- we don't shift in our need for prayer. We may shift in our self-reliance but our need remains (whether or not we're aware of it.)

I learn boatloads about the heart of a person, how they interact with Jesus, and what they really want when I allow them the space to pray out loud for themselves. It's powerful to hear and an honor to agree with. 

After some encouragement from my main gal, Beth Moore, I am praying each morning that God would help me love Jesus with everything I am. Often, I am too dense to remember that this is something I can ask God for. I stay in my own-strength thinking it's up to me to love Jesus and want to love him. But I can't do that myself. Not authentically, everyday. 

God wants to give me that. He wants to shape my heart to love Jesus more. Isn't that amazing news?

So I am praying that he would plant a supernatural love for Jesus and for his word in me. Immovable. Other-worldly. I can't wait to see how he answers it- because when he does- I know there won't be anyone but HIM to praise and thank. 

What about you? Do you even pray for yourself? When was the last time you prayed for yourself out loud? Or asked a friend to pray for him/herself out loud? There is power in joining in those personal-prayer spaces. 

Are You Ever a Fake?

4/24 Where Are You Faking?

I can still remember which corner of Cheryl's couch I slouched down into when she first asked me this one-two-punch question duo. She brought it up very casually. No transition. We were probably talking about basketball or the chilly autumn weather right before. But then. Bam. 

Where are you aching and where are you faking?

Last week I answered some of my heart's current ache. And this week, I let you in to some of my heart's current fake. 

What I love about this question is the assumption behind it. We automatically assume the other is faking somewhere. Hard truth, but truth nonetheless. 

The good news? Admittance of ache has washed away a lot of the charred fake of my heart. But my heart is a sham a lot of the time. There are insincere pockets everywhere.

So here's one pocket: my knowledge of what's going on. I have this weird desire to appear 'so in step' with God's Spirit that I am in constant awareness (and agreement) of exactly what he's doing. I take a great amount of pride in my 'ability' to articulate the movement and action of God in my life. I fake in the ways I present just how close he feels to me sometimes. I live in a pressure-cooker false-reality that if I don't know Jesus well or feel incredibly in sync with him, others' faith journeys will inevitably suffer. This is equally absurd and unnecessary. 

So sometimes I fake the good in order to ensure 'everyone else' stays in a good place around me. As if that were up to me to control or manage. 

But, on the flip side... this IS a pretty amazing season I'm experiencing with God. One of great discovery and worship. It isn't everyday though. And I fake in those days. 

Help me, Lord to be as real with the people around me as I am with you. Free up my heart to express the fake so there is room for even more truth deep in my bones. Your truth. The truth that sets me free. 

What about you? Where are the insincere places of your life/heart? Where are you faking? Who could you tell/confess this week? 

Where are you Aching?

The next two questions are courtesy of one of my mentors, Cheryl Baird. One of the first times we met together she asked me these questions. Then waited in silence. Pushing passed terrified, I thought about it and answered as honestly as I could. 

4/21 Where are you aching?

My stomach aches. (The literal answer to the question) I wrote about stomach woes a week ago and have since discovered that these stomach issues most likely started as a result of the norovirus running through my system as an early 30th birthday present last January. Apparently sicknesses like these can change up the way a gut functions, what it is able to break down, and how tough it used to be. (For the record stress and hormones of pregnancy didn't help either!)

Physically aching seems to ache and break all other parts of me. Physical pain has been my story- the way God gets my attention and draws me back to my knees. Physical ache exposes the aches within my heart, mind and soul simultaneously. 

I ache today for the lost. Feeling lost and isolated this last season has opened my eyes to the lost all around me. I see sadness and scared everywhere I look. I can recognize it quickly now. There's something about carrying pain- some kind of heart tenderization that happens- that allows you to identify it in your fellow-travelers.

Oh friend, God doesn't waste pain. He doesn't misuse our ache. There is buried purpose behind every frayed and tattered heart-scrap we bring him.

Even if the only good out of this season is that I see pain more profoundly, more compassionately in others- wow- is that worth it. It doesn't make the ache less painful- but it does make it more bearable somehow.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
— Psalm 34:18

He is near and he saves. When we're brokenhearted and crushed. He is near and he saves. Praise His Name. 

  

What do you need?

4/17 What do you need?

A couple summers ago I traveled with the Westmont Women's basketball team to Uganda. I cried myself to sleep the first night because of how much I missed (then 1 year old) Ry,  but the rest of the trip I cried more often over the beauty I saw. Everywhere. We made house visits to the most humbly broken and fractured people across villages surrounding Kampala. They had close to nothing tangible to carry or call their own and yet they carried no shame. They presented themselves fully broken and fully whole at the same time. It mesmerized me. 

There's a lot of processing to do with college women (most of whom had never traveled outside of the US) when walking and shaky-bus driving through the towns and fields of Uganda. We cried and got angry. We felt intense joy and debilitating frustration. We didn't leave with many concrete, immovable thoughts but one stuck with us through the trip and even after: A breathtaking respect for the Ugandan people. And here's why:

Each Ugandan we met carried a beautiful awareness of his/her own need. That unhidden need made God bigger than we had ever experienced before. 

Need can make God HUGE. If we choose him as provider of our needs. 

So- this week- with Austin traveling for 7 days & 6 nights straight. Here's what I need: help. A lot of it.

FIRST- I need to say being the lone parent for any length of time is hard. If you do this- EVER- you need to know and acknowledge that too.

SECOND- I need people.

  • I needed Jord to come over to watch the girls so Austin and I could have a date and time to uninterruptedly connect before he went. 
  • I need the college girls to come to my house for Bible Study instead of meeting at Syd's so I don't need a sitter tonight. 
  • I need Heidi to come over Tuesday to watch the girls so I can go to an apt to make me better.
  • I need Britt to speak at UCSB FCA so I don't need to worry about what to teach that night. .
  • I need Hannah to hang with me and my girls so I can have an at least adult conversation.
  • I need quiet nights to myself to sit, read, and regroup.
  • I need a hug from my sister- which will happen Friday. (!!)
  •  Mostly I need Jesus. I need to be okay with neediness, bring him mine- completely unhidden- and expect him to provide in ways that will make him HUGE. 

May we be beautifully aware of our own neediness today. And may God be BIG as a result. 

Being able to articulate need is such a gift. Especially if the first fruits of your needs are met by the one who promises to provide every need according to his glorious riches. What bout you? What do you need?

How Are You, Really?

4/14 How are you, really?

We’re changing things up a bit around here. I have been tempted in the last couple weeks to take down this website and stop writing for a season. When I’ve struggled in the past it seems my go-to is to stay home and figure it out on my own. You know, hide until the storm blows over.

You may not even notice a change if you come by for a visit every once in awhile, but I will always remember this post as the one that invited you in. Good Friday seemed like an appropriate day to do so.

My friends laugh about the ways I ask this question. I tilt my head, wait in silence, and usually stare obnoxiously until they hit me straight. Sometimes tears come as a prerequisite to the words. Sometimes we stop at "I'm good" because it's just not the time to get into the real answer or maybe- they really are doing well.

So how am I, really?  

I've been better you guys.

I have struggled with stomachaches and stomach issues for over a year now and it’s been a debilitating/frustrating/confusing journey. I’m convinced it’s not pregnancy (now that I have a four month old), which means it’s time to get some things checked out.

It’s become the very worst since Remi has been born. I have lost weight- which brings me a lot of shame. I have lost energy, tears and sometimes the hope that things will change.

Last week my stomach woke me up at 4:30 am and I stayed up. I wrote in my journal that waking up like this used to make me sad and upset, but now it feels normal enough that I’m numb to it- and that scares me. I wrote words but didn’t really feel anything. I come from a long line of feelers, so to not feel means there’s something that needs to move. A wedge, or dam in my soul that needs to release.

So, I went to the only room with a door that didn’t have a sleeping person in it, closed the door and cried. I fell to my knees and cried. And cried. And cried.

Feeling awful has added so much guilt to the ways I’m ‘underperforming.’ Feeling awful has made way for new amounts of isolation. Feeling awful has discouraged my normally encouraged heart. And yet, feeling awful has made me pray, ask for prayer, and soak myself in truth more than any other season I can remember.

So I don’t know you guys. I’m not okay. And I am practicing the mantra that “it’s okay to not be okay.” Are there days that are better than others? Yes. But is this the hardest season that I can remember in recent years? Yes.

So even though all I want to do is go on a writing-hiatus, I am inviting you in.

*******

There is a scene from the movie version of Little Women when the German professor kind of disses the writing Jo has tirelessly worked on and given him to read. She defends it by saying 'this is what the people want.' But he gently encourages her instead to write from life.

So that’s my promise, attached to an invitation. I will write from life. The current. The struggle and what I pray is the one-day victory.

Even though pain makes me want to hide, I felt as though God impressed upon my spirit that there is too much pain ‘out there’ to keep mine huddled ‘in here.’ All I want to do is fight to keep my pain folded, neat, manageable and to myself. But that isn’t working anymore and it isn't real either.

Pain isn’t about comparing to another’s to weigh whether or not we ‘deserve’ to feel sad, alone or heartbroken. Pain is pain. We all have it. Having it makes it valid. So today I invite you into mine so we can acknowledge together: this life thing is hard. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be but it may just be the way to see God clearer than ever before.

Through this season God is real. He is present. He is kind. And he is worthy of my praise. Let's all take a step closer toward expressing how we really are, and taking him at his word. 

Share with your people today how you really are. If you are in a good season, thank God and celebrate. If you are in a hard season, thank God and let people into it. We are not meant to do this thing alone. I am almost teary-eyed knowing it's not just me. 

 

IF YOUR LIFE WERE A MOVIE

4/10 If your life were a movie would you want to watch it? (Inspired by my brother, Kyle, on his birthday)

The comedic genius that is Kyle Thomas Trayser 

The comedic genius that is Kyle Thomas Trayser 

My brother, Kyle, turns 29 today. Way to go and way to live, Ky. A few years ago, Kyle attended a conference in San Diego that catapulted him deeper into a love of all-things-story. Kyle graduated with a degree in Film last June and has since landed a job where he uses a camera to tell a stories. Kyle has made me love and appreciate film more. His passion is contagious and his eye is unique. 

So if you were to think about your life as a movie- what kind of story is being told? Comedy? Tragedy? Drama? Documentary? (Kid Movie? haha- Sometimes when I go to bed with the Clifford theme song in my head, I think, what has become of my life?)

I would like more comedy in my life story. There is something about stepping foot into real, adult shoes. They feel heavier. Soon, life feels heavier. When my life feels heavy and there's a lack of lovely lightness- less things are funny and comedy is scarce. I love to laugh and would say YES quicker to this question if my life felt a bit lighter. 

What truly makes any story worth telling, watching, re-telling, and re-watching is the struggle that main character is going through in order to solve the problem/get the girl/come into their own. My very favorite stories are the redemptive ones. I could watch those all day-every day. 

So, naturally I asked myself, Am I living a redemptive story? 

A redemptive story means being aware of unhealthy entanglements and stepping away. A redemptive story means crashing into the storms of life head-on instead of helplessly letting hardships just 'happen' to us. A redemptive story fully embraces the 'here and now' no matter how hard or hopeless in an effort to gain footing to reach the 'then and there.' A redemptive story isn't walked alone- the process always includes a slew of people. A redemptive story is one that hopes- even when it feels ridiculously foolish. A redemptive story is ultimately impossible without the redeeming example of Jesus on the cross. Any story that has given us goosebumps, made us cry, hope or dream- exist in power because of the greatest redemption story ever told. 

Most days, yeah, I think I'm living a redemptive story. Because I know and follow Jesus. It may not be flashy, artsy or well-edited, but there is a deeper, sweeter narrative going on in me because of the truth of who my God is. 

In less than a week I'll celebrate that great redemption story of Jesus. I hope you will too. And I'll smile to myself knowing that the death-to-life process is one I get to live in, claim and choose every day for the rest of my time here on earth.