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Comparison Culture

To listen to the audio version of this blog, follow the link. https://soundcloud.com/kiana-mc/comparison-culture-blog

Comparison is a way that we have come to determine the quality of people and things, but do we actually need to compare one thing to another to truly appreciate it or measure its value? Take life for instance. Why are you happy to be alive? Is it simply because death is its alternative or do you find worth in life itself? What about your car? Is it valuable to you because it gets you from point A to point B or do you not find value in it because it isn’t the one you want?

I know. Lots of questions to start, but I’m just wondering how it serves us to make comparisons or if it’s even necessary.

When We Compare Ourselves

In a bible study I attended years ago, the pastor pointed out that social media had become a means to measure our progress in life. At the time, I wasn’t being affected in that way, but there was truth in what he was saying. As the years passed on and my Facebook friends began to reach the major life events of getting engaged and married, moving to a new city and emerging in their career field, and traveling the world, I began to feel the effects of the “social media ruler”. My life paled in comparison because I was struggling in so many ways. It looked like they were having a much better go at life than I was. But as I became determined to regulate my own happiness and mental stability, I’ve chosen to take a break from scrolling sometimes, to guard my heart, because discontentment can creep in at a moment’s notice.

What’s dangerous about comparison is its ability to rob us of our contentment. This is a society in which we will second guess our happiness based on what someone else has that seems better. We find ourselves questioning everything about our lives because it doesn’t look like someone else’s. It’s one thing to see what someone else is doing and be motivated by it, but if we aren’t careful, we will begin to chase things we never actually wanted while depreciating what is actually valuable in our lives. With comparison, we tend lose sight of our desires and covet lifestyles for status and external validation.

When Others Compare Us

I realize that comparison did not originate with social media and at times we aren’t the culprit. Some of us experience it within our families and social groups. We are identified as the only one who isn’t married yet, or our freelance career path is compared to our hot shot brother’s corporate job. But if you’re content, what people try to exalt as the standard will be identified as an option you didn’t choose or something you can’t control. Don’t let comparison kill you! Be sure of your plan and your progress. As long as you know where you’re headed in life, that confidence will be evident and speak for you. If you find yourself discontent, hopefully you are working to seek out those things you desire or you have a support system that can help you navigate that part of your life.

When We Compare Experiences

Another form of comparison is the minimalization of an experience. In life, some of my painful experiences were brushed off because the listener didn’t think they were that bad. I was told that the situation wasn’t worth crying over because it could be worse. Once someone did it to me, I began doing it to myself. So when something came up, I played it down, no matter how much it hurt me. This can be detrimental for several reasons. When we’re forced to compare our situation to a seemingly worse situation, it diminishes our experience and can create a sense of self doubt and insecurity. Suppressing the issue holds up the healing process. While discussing this topic, my co worker said that we can’t compare our hardships because someone is always going to have it worse than you. It isn’t selfish or self absorbed to acknowledge your pain and experience.

Ponder what role comparison has played in your life. Is it having a positive or negative effect? I challenge you to find value in the things in your life without comparing it to the best or worse of something similar. Also, take time to identify your desires and goals without considering social standards.

I’d love for you to share your experiences of comparison or how you have learned to take your life and circumstances for what they are.

Trust God

To listen to an audio version of this post follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/kiana-mc/trust-god-audio-blog

It’s no mistake that during one of the toughest seasons of my life, I’ve been on this journey to understand what it truly means to trust God. I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t find anyone to trust with my weakness. In my darkest hour, I couldn’t bring myself to trust even the people who I know had good intentions. I was alone and all I could do was trust God.  Believers say “Trust God”  when your situation is “above you” and out of your control. In saying it, I’ve never heard anyone explain how to do it though. Is it prayer, fasting, consecration, being still? How do you and God know that you’re actively trusting in Him?

Trust is one of those abstract words like love, confidence, sadness, etc. Everyone has a different way of expressing it. Trust by definition is to rely on a person’s or thing’s ability, strength or integrity. For instance, when you sit down, you trust that the chair will not collapse but that it will support you. And when you do the trust fall, you lean back, believing that the people behind you will catch you and not allow you to fall flat on your back.

Nowadays, trusting people is a difficult task. Many of us have a small group of people that we feel we can actually rely on when it counts. Maybe you’ve tried to confide in someone and your business ended up in another conversation. That can be devastating in the midst of an already difficult situation. I hate to say it, but trusting people can be hit or miss. There may never be a time when you’re completely safe with someone. That’s kind of scary…

Enters God.

We are encouraged to trust in God in several scriptures. The Bible says to obey and honor many people, including your parents and spiritual leaders, but as far as I can tell, trust is primarily to be placed in God. There are certainly benefits to trusting people, but the amount of trust we try to place in people can damage our dependence on God. God will lead us to meaningful relationships where we can place a healthy amount of trust in others. The truth is people can only do so much for you, even when you do trust them. Ultimately, you have to go to the one who is the most trustworthy.

The How

Trusting God requires that you know him. Our claim as believers hinges on whether we trust that God is who He says he is. There’s a scripture that says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God. If you’re unsure how to trust God, reading about him is a great place to start. There are several scriptures that describe who God is and how he interacts with humanity. It may also help to hear the testimonies of trusting God from the people you know.

I have found that this trust isn’t as action packed as I thought. Relying on someone or something, is less of an action and more of a demonstration of a mental move. I’ve found that trust is a kind of yielding. In a situation that feels out of control, trusting God brings about peace in that chaotic situation and says “I believe everything will be alright, even if I can’t fix it myself.”

Help! I’m a control freak

This is a real thing! I struggle with fear of the unknown. At times, I find myself tip toeing toward the future, solely because I don’t always know what to expect. When what you had planned begins to fall apart, you tend to stop moving forward until you can plainly see what is before you. But when you trust God, you can confidently move forward, trusting God to establish your new place. 

Help! I’m a fixer

It may be difficult for you to be still while things are chaotic in your life. You may move too quickly and try to change things so that the pain, the frustration, or that in between feeling doesn’t last too long. Trusting God eliminates the hasty decisions we make trying to calm life’s storms ourselves. Trusting God requires humility and acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty over your life. 

Trusting is a process

You need not be perfect along this journey of trust, the objective is to believe. Trust seems to be established in the midst of our tribulations. They present an opportunity for us to see the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. It’s hard to really know that someone is trustworthy without being placed in the circumstance that requires you to trust them. Seeing things work out in someone else’s life may give you the gall to try God, but only your experience with God will produce trust in Him.

One Man’s Word, a Woman’s Bondage

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

1 Timothy 2:11-12

For years I struggled with my calling in life because of these scriptures. I felt that God had given me the gift of teaching and I was told that leadership is in my future, but these verses suggested that I could not be used to teach or lead. What was even more confusing for me was that I grew up in churches that had women in every tier of leadership. Could they be out of the will of God for pastoring a church?

I had only found these verses in my adult life, while I was trying to establish what I believed based on personal study and the leading of the Holy Spirit. This particular belief would make or break my future. What if the plan I thought God had for me isn’t scripturally supported? Then what would I do?

Several years ago, I debated with someone who believed the principles of the scriptures above. I was told that I could teach, but it had to either be children or a women’s group. I didn’t see myself leading a women’s ministry for the rest of my life. What I had didn’t feel specific to women. I had already seen women operating in ministry at large, so I knew it was being done, but I was more concerned about God approving what I did. I didn’t want to be disobedient, regardless of what everyone else was doing.

My day of liberation

A year or so later, I sat in a Bible study where a guy was sharing his interpretation of the scripture we were studying. For so long the Bible was known to me as God’s word and I believed it was all true and flawless. But on this day, I was introduced to a new concept of the Bible. It is simply a book of stories and letters, written by humans about humans, inspired by God. I still believe the miracles and stories found in the Bible are true events, but my eyes were opened to the “God inspired” aspect. The people in the Bible weren’t perfect, but their God is, and that’s what makes it a good point of reference. That’s why if you read the right parts, you’ll see those humans committed many errors.

A Brief Bible Background

Much of the New Testament is comprised of letters from the Apostle Paul to the churches he oversaw and people he mentored, like Timothy. The letters were his words, his perspective, and his instruction. Paul’s words aren’t necessarily “God’s commands”, they are principles inspired by words God had previously established, made relevant for the situation. So, Paul’s letters are equivalent to a sermon we might hear today. God’s inspiration has to come through the channel of the mind, and spirit of that spokesperson, and we can only pray that God’s inspired word is not tainted by their view. We trust that the speaker is being led by God, but sometimes their own ideas are offered in the mix.

My Liberating thought

So if God didn’t say that women should be quiet in church, that means, if I did teach a group of people about God, it wouldn’t make me disobedient, unless I was trying to do something God didn’t lead me to do. What a relief that was for me. I love studying God’s word, pulling out life principles and sharing them. I would have felt so stifled if I had to live my life without the freedom to share my God inspired thoughts.

Then, who was Paul talking to?

If God didn’t say that women should be silent in church, why would Paul say that? I’m sure Paul had a legitimate reason to give that instruction, which was relevant in the culture of that time and place. Perhaps Paul was reinforcing the social structure at that time within the church. Women were not of equal status to men during that time, and still aren’t in many places. That system may be based on this.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

1 Timothy 2 : 13-14

Man was first and woman was second, so the man leads and woman follows. Woman and man mess up, woman is silenced and man continues to lead.

Me: Who makes these rules!?

Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. It seems to me that God would remain the leader, and the woman and the man would follow God. That’s seems, fair and logical to me.

The idea that the fall of man was Eve’s fault is oppressive in nature, especially considering that God told Adam what to do and he was a victim of peer pressure. I didn’t come to place blame though.

I believe in order and I do believe that men are supposed to lead. However, it is hard to believe that God wouldn’t want women to lead at all, but would allow for the mental capacity and capability to do so.

Oppression vs. Ability

Ability is determined by skills and knowledge, thus inability would be the lack of those things. Oppression however, restricts a capable thing from doing what it has the ability to do. It’s not that women do not have the innate ability to lead, they were restricted from doing so, perhaps to prevent any further “falls” or misleading. Men are just as capable of misleading or abusing power. Men don’t have a lesser chance of misleading than women. We’re more than likely pretty equal because we have to go through the same process of building character, which prevents the bad leadership.

Women have great ideas, too. Women have people skills, too. Women have vision, too. Women can lead and can do so without oppressing or dishonoring the man.

However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

So let’s have a conversation about women in ministry and other positions of power. Let’s talk about the pros and cons. Let’s talk about oppression. Let’s talk about the scriptures that have us bound. Let’s get free!

Let’s build the Kingdom!

Almost a Diary Entry: Am I DOING this right?

Recently, I felt like I needed to take a break from “sharing my walk with God.” As I sat one day and did some introspection, I realized that I’m quick to share a revelation of the scripture, but I don’t as quickly follow up with action. I tend to identify the problem and the solution, but I don’t always put the solution into practice right away.

Many of my posts are adapted from real life situations that I am presently encountering. So, as I reviewed the Kingdom Konversation Live discussing “Too Smart for Your Own Good” and forgiveness, I felt bad because I realized that I’ve only done some of what I shared. I identified the solution but the whole issue hasn’t been resolved, at least not in my eyes.

I started to just suspend the blog for a while until I got myself together. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I’m a hypocrite, but I do think my eagerness to share sometimes interferes with me taking my own advice. If my wisdom from God is hot off the press, I have to make sure I’m implementing it before I hop on and start typing.

My Challenge

I’ve been told several times that I am “Wise beyond my years”. That sounds great until you start sharing wisdom and solutions about situations you’ve yet to work through in your own life. I like being able to help others and I honor the gift God has given me, but sometimes it’s challenging. I may know a thing or two, but it doesn’t excuse me from the work we all have to do.

So in light of those thoughts and feelings, I took to the scriptures and found new insight in familiar place to help me walk this one out. I’ve studied James 1 before, regarding being slow to speak when angry, but as I revisited that scripture again, I found that perhaps I need to be slow to speak, (or write), not just in moments of anger.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;… But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:19,22-25 NASB

My Biggest Concern

I want to make sure I am a doer of the word. I don’t want to forget that the foundation of this blog is my walk with God, which includes learning to be more like Him. This isn’t just content for people to read and enjoy, this is me studying to show myself approved and sharing it with others. This blog may not be a pulpit, but it is a platform and I want to do right by those who subscribe and follow my life in this way. I know we all have to make our own decisions and be accountable for them, but I just want to be the best influence I can. Therefore, the expectation of fruit.

 Living and Leading

Leading or having influence is so much easier when it comes from a place of action and not just knowledge. It’s not good enough to know the rules or principles and enforce them, you should to be abiding by them, too. At a previous job, I helped my clients with financial management and creating budgets. At that time in my life, unbeknownst to them, I was in over my head financially, too. They didn’t know because I knew what to tell them, but when I got home, I didn’t know what to do. One day, I went to see a financial advisor as a resource to my clients and ended up being advised for my own finances. The financial advisor said to me, “You’ll be able to help your clients better if you have your own finances in order.” He was right. So often we prepare to lead and teach others and we fail to lead our own lives properly. So maybe this is for you, leader. Your life is the wealth of wisdom to pull from for the people who look to you for guidance. You can’t testify from a book you’ve read, but you can testify from your life, once you learn the lessons. (Then, maybe you could write a book.)

Don’t be so Hard on Yourself

After talking about this with a friend, I was told not to be so hard on myself. Sometimes I can only see what I’m not doing enough, but it’s important to be able to take a well rounded assessment of ourselves. I can now see the effort I have made toward using the wisdom God shares with me. And I can identify that part of the work is seeking a solution. What caught me off guard in the situation I mentioned in the beginning, is that the moment I identified what I needed to change, the situation itself changed and I didn’t end up having to do what I thought. I had finally trusted God enough to do what I feared, and the “mountain” was no longer there. Part of me felt that God honored the work I did between Him and I, but the other more critical part of me felt like I could have done more to initiate a conversation about my offense. This was just another lesson in our limited understanding of God’s ways. I thought the point of it all was to be bold enough to initiate a conversation with someone I thought wouldn’t receive it well. But as it turns out, the point was to seek God about it. Apparently, that’s always the point.

While James 1 talks about being a doer of the word, the metaphor of looking in the mirror also highlights the importance of us focusing on ourselves. Sometimes we try to manage all parties involved, when the simple and more beneficial thing for us to do is to judge ourselves by the word first and work on what doesn’t line up. In life, we’re never completely right and without fault, in any situation. We can always extend more compassion, pursue peace quicker and listen longer before we speak.

So in light of those thoughts and feelings, Kingdom Konversations with Kiana continues, hopefully, in a more effective and impactful way.

Be a doer of the word for the Kingdom,

Kiana

Too Smart for Your Own Good

So, here’s a little known fact about me:

Forgiveness is a challenge for me.

I remember holding grudges against people that hurt me as a teenager. Since dealing with offense wasn’t much of a conversation growing up, I kind of learned to deal with it in my own way, without much guidance. Now that I’m an adult, and more importantly, one who has become a disciple of Jesus, I’ve realized that although I know I’m supposed to forgive, I still don’t sometimes. I think I know what I “need to do” and how I “should feel” toward the people I need to forgive, yet I have a hard time doing it.

To be honest, I didn’t think it was still a problem for me. I thought I was free from holding grudges (with my saved self) just because I knew some scripture about forgiveness. Luckily for me, I have people in my life that will tell me the truth. The other day, my friend Mat said to me, “You don’t forgive”, and I confidently responded, “Yes I do!”. But a day or so later, a person came to mind who I have yet to completely forgive, along with my actions and thoughts to prove that I haven’t forgiven them. What shocked me was that those actions were devices to protect me from the vulnerable work of forgiveness, causing me not to see the unforgiveness in my heart. Sometimes, you really have to snatch the cover back, so to speak, so that you can see and know the truth.

My version of forgiveness

has been to keep in mind that we’re all broken, in some way, trying to get fixed. I’ve been conceptualizing offense as a result of a “human handicap”, as if being human causes us to offend one another. But I still failed to separate the person from their action. So every time I saw someone who hurt me, I remembered what happened and my stomach dropped, I cringed, or I rolled my eyes (internally). I couldn’t stand to see their face. And if I could help it, I avoided them altogether.

What I thought I knew about forgiveness

I thought that since I was the one who was mistreated, whatever I needed to do to feel better about it was warranted, as long as I didn’t retaliate or seek revenge. I knew it was my responsibility to approach the person who had an issue with me (according to Matthew 5:23), but I wasn’t ready or willing to have the necessary conversation that would facilitate reconciliation and forgiveness. So, I thought it was okay to leave the issue as is, in order to avoid conflict. I felt like I was doing everyone a favor.

The Truth about Knowledge

Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom]. 1 Corinthians 8:1b

The Amplified Bible

As it turns out, I lacked humility. (I know, this had me shook too!) I thought “Why would I need to be humble in a situation where I was the victim?” It’s not that I needed to go to my offender, with my tail between my legs as if I did wrong. The humility was needed for me to seek God about how to approach the situation with urgency instead of waiting until I felt ready, based on what I knew.

Just knowing about principles, such as forgiveness, isn’t helpful when you don’t have a revelation of how to apply them in a particular situation. God’s instruction is infused with wisdom when it is lived out by his leading. The plain words of scripture are not always tailor made for our circumstance. So when I rationalized that I would be misunderstood and that the person I needed to forgive was unapproachable, I decided the instructions just didn’t work for this situation. However, I needed to humble myself in that moment and seek God about how to approach my offender so that I could forgive them quickly.

Then there’s love…

Love causes you to think beyond yourself. As much as you may want an apology from the person who hurt you, love may cause you to pray for their healing and growth that would prevent them from repeating the offense to you and others.

Sometimes we demonstrate that our knowledge is only effective for giving advice, rather than demonstrating our ability to resolve our own conflicts. I guess you really can be “too smart for your own good”! These days, I try not to have more answers for others than I have for myself. I also try not to judge how people handle their situations, because I know sometimes I struggle to do it the “Christian way,” too. Knowledge in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s just that knowledge by itself can lead to self-righteousness, which can lead to a false sense of faultlessness. Humility allows us to see our flaws and remember that we need God to overcome them. Ultimately, love causes you to want the best for the people love you and the ones who hurt you as well. You may think you know best, but love will never lead you wrong.

Almost a diary entry: My identity Isolated Me

Best all around.

It was my senior year of high school, and I thought I deserved that superlative because I knew some of everybody, even the outcasts. But of course, Superlatives is a popularity contest, so you don’t win it for knowing the people who aren’t popular. In the present, I still find myself befriending the people no one hangs around. It seems like there’s this magnet inside of me that draws the outcasts to me. These friendships, by the way, have become some of the most rewarding friendships of my life. We’ve endured through each other’s hard times and celebrated each other during our accomplishments. But there was a time when I couldn’t see the good in all of that. There was a time when I thought I deserved a certain type of friend. I remember feeling slighted because I thought I was “good enough” to have “cool” friends. This was before I began to reap the benefits of those relationships. At that time, I was still sowing and all I knew was that I wanted something easier. It took me some time to realize that what was happening with me and through me had little to do with my personality, but it had everything to do with my identity and purpose.

Jesus was known to hang out with the untouchables of his day and the Pharisees called him on it, quite frequently.

In Matthew 9:10-17, Jesus was having dinner with some tax collectors [the equivalent of our present day bill collectors, whose calls we ignore and block] and sinners. The Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with the sinners and tax collectors. And before the disciples could say anything, Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I desire compassion and not sacrifice. I’ve come for the sinners, not the righteous.”

This passage gave insight to my experience with friendships. I realized that, popular people don’t typically need more friends. And “well-tribed” people don’t need more people to join their tribe, because they’re already surrounded. Who then needs the tribe? The loners and the outcasts. I know, “There’s a reason no one talks to them.” and “They seem weird.” so you wonder what you two would have in common. These are the thoughts we usually have about befriending outcasts or more generally, someone who isn’t “our type”. We often cling to people and things we can relate to, but on the flip side we find ourselves with a narrow worldview, unable to accept lifestyles or choices that don’t mirror our own. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is that befriending someone different than you gives you the opportunity to grow in patience, love and acceptance.

As humans trying to be Christians, we have the tendency to mark off things for our own pleasure and enjoyment, instead of seeing every part of our life as God’s property. For me, I didn’t want friendships to be my form of “ministry” or something that would require more pruning and growth. “At least let me choose my friends, God!” It seemed I didn’t have control of much of anything. God wants that part of my life as well, for His glory. Instead of holding on to who I wanted to be, I had to surrender to the design God fashioned in me. God gave me the ability to see the diamonds in the rough; the precious jewels that had yet to be discovered. These are my type of friends.

The only reason, I felt isolated was because I stepped into the world of a person who had been isolated. As my life aligned with theirs, I felt what it was like to not be invited, checked on or understood. But I was only isolated as long as I felt like I belonged elsewhere. You can either take what’s handed to you or you can work to create what you want. It’s like the difference between starting a business and becoming an owner of an already successful chain restaurant. If you join something that’s already successful, you have a ready made reputation and guaranteed clientele. But when you start a business, you have to identify your market, build your clientele, and you gain a reputation by the opinion of those who experience your product.

I said that to say that there’s nothing wrong with building friendships from the ground up. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it. One thing I know for sure, is that we all have that something, that makes us different and separates us from the majority. Don’t be afraid to lean into that; It’s who you are. And you have the ability to surround yourself with others who understand and appreciate what you have to offer, by just being YOU!

I’d love you to share your journey of identity. Let’s have a Konversation.

Loving the outcasts for the Kingdom…

Sometimes All You Can Afford to Do is Get Yourself Together.

As a child, I remember riding in the car with my dad as he drove through the nicer neighborhoods, on the other side of town, looking at the big houses. My dad would often say, “If you had money you could live.” I imagine he said that as he thought about all the things he would have or do, if his finances permitted it. As an adult,  I now understand what he meant. As far as I can remember, growing up, I was content. All of my needs were met and I had quite a few of the things I wanted, as well. But since I’ve had to scale back to a basic lifestyle due to my income versus my expenses, I find myself having to be content with my bills being paid.

The Millennium Tour has been one of the biggest things to happen this year and many of the millennial women I know, were making plans to be at the nearest tour stop. As it turns out, it doesn’t look like I’ll be attending that concert this time around. I can’t lie, I was pretty bummed at the reality that I’ve missed seeing B2K in concert for the second time in my lifetime. It’s unlikely that they’ll be in concert together again, which made me very sad. But then the thought came to me: “Sometimes all you can afford to do is get yourself together.” It was a very humbling and sober thought in that moment.  I then began to think about the things I needed to do to advance my career path, to make myself more financially stable, to nourish my physical, mental and spiritual health, and I realized that at that moment, I needed to focus on getting myself together.

With all that has been going on with mental health awareness, self care has also been a huge subtopic. I’ve been working with people for the entirety of my professional career, between being a teacher and a social worker. Dealing with people on a daily basis is not easy, much less dealing with people in crisis. In these professions and many others, it is important to take care of yourself and make sure that you are in a mental and physical state to be able to take on someone else’s needs and problems. What I’m beginning to understand more is that self care is necessary but difficult when you don’t have much money. For mothers, not being able to leave a house full of people and have some “me time” is detrimental to their well-being. For men, having to work long hours and do manual labor but not having the opportunity to rest and go watch the game and eat wings, is frustrating but also detrimental to their wellness. For couples who aren’t able to have date night because they either can’t afford to go out or pay a baby sitter, it’s stressful. But likewise for singles, who just need the opportunity to unwind after a long day of work. But this is a common factor in many low income households.

For me, home has never felt like “my sanctuary”. It is difficult for me to relax and be replenished at home aside from sleeping at night. While I’m there, I begin to notice all the things that need to be done and I begin housework instead of taking a moment to clear my mind of the day’s frustrations. I have always lived a life on the go and I will often go eat in my car at the park as opposed to sitting at home at my dining room table.

With this post, I really intend to begin a conversation about free or low cost self care practices. I often find myself more stressed and frustrated by the fact that I can’t afford my kind of self care. I’d love to be able to rent a car and drive a couple cities over, and get a hotel room for the day. I can’t afford to do that right now though. And one of the things I’m learning to do in adulthood is adjust with the different circumstances of life. The reality is that right now, my budget only allows for basic needs. That doesn’t diminish the importance of self care, but it means that I have to become creative and find ways to manipulate what is available to me in order to fulfill the need for self care practices.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

Finding contentment, is the key to life it seems. And with Christ, we can overcome the challenges of a tight budget but still have peace and mental wellness.

Please share your self care hacks, maybe it would be beneficial to someone else.

Take care, for the kingdom,

Kiana

The Ugly Phase

The ugly phase is most often associated with hair styles. I’ve cut my hair short several times and the moment I decide to grow it back out, I know I’m in for it. It’s just something about the time it takes for the short areas to catch up to the longer areas that is just…aggravating. It really exposes my impatience and inability to accept and adjust to the natural process of growth.

In a world of over night success stories, sometimes we fail to realize that nothing actually happens overnight. There’s work and preparation that happens to turn average people into celebrities. During that preparation, there are some wrong notes, rejected projects proposals, bombed performances, low grades, [Insert your ugly phase here]. How often to we give up during the preparation phase due to the difficulty or weariness that comes with trying and not being perfect?

Let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

(A different version may say patience in place of endurance)

The E word

Endurance has been wearing me out for a few years now. I used to quit things as soon as they became difficult and stressful until it was impressed upon me to stick it out and tap into a different strength source. I’m better at it now, but it’s still hard sometimes not to just quit to avoid the pain. What this scripture appears to say is that enduring actually perfects you. It seems the only route out of the ugly phase, is through it.

It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to apply the principle in the moment when you feel like you can’t take anymore. When your embarrassed at your skill level and want to just skip to the part when you’re as good as your favorite artist or musician.

Here’s a secret: They’ve had ugly phases too.

This most recent time I decided to grow my hair out, I remember wanting to just cut all my hair off so that it could all grow together. It seemed logical at the moment, until I considered what my actually goal was. I wanted to keep the style I had, I just wanted it to be a little fuller and longer in each section. Therefore, getting a fade would actually prolong the process to meeting the goal.

I decided to continue on, not getting hair cuts and just working with what I had and suddenly, one day it seemed like my hair was the perfect length! It obviously didn’t happen suddenly, but when I began to focus on other things, and keep my goal in mind, the in between time seemed to fly by.

May you find the patience necessary to embrace your current stage, no matter how ugly it feels. And may your beautiful stage come sooner than you expected.

Endure for the Kingdom,

Kiana ❤️

over.whelmed.

Disclaimer: This post may not be for everyone, but I have a feeling its for most of the people I know.

At some point, we could all identify with feeling like life is too much. We have times in our lives when it seems there’s a never ending to-do list. As much as you move and do, it feels like nothing actually gets done. And as soon as you think you’ve crossed everything off the list, something else pops up and the cycle continues.

Sometimes, I feel this sensation when approaching the topic of my purpose. I am constantly overwhelmed and burdened with the fact that so many needs exist in our society and yet I am the only person (in my prideful mind) that seems to be concerned enough to be thinking about solutions. The reality is that there are probably many others thinking about those very same needs, but if they feel like I feel, they too are overwhelmed and trying to figure out where to start.

I had to learn that instead of trying to save the whole world, I needed to figure out which part of the world I’m called to save. That is hard work, (that I have to be reminded of constantly.) Biting off more than you can chew is a real thing that produces burn out and incomplete tasks.

Having a heart that is sensitive to a particular group of people or a place in and of itself, can be burdensome.

Nehemiah is someone who’s heart for a place lead him to heading up a huge project that was successfully accomplished.

Point number 1: It is possible!

Don’t allow yourself to be so overwhelmed with the vision that you talk yourself out of trying to make it happen. Pointing out that it is possible first, is critical in our decision to engage with the thing that grieves us the most.

After Nehemiah wept and cried out to God about Jerusalem, he assessed the needs and then he shared the vision.

Point number 2: Stop trying to do it alone!

Nehemiah was strategic about who he shared the vision with, but after giving it some thought, he did recruit a team of people to help him get it done. As it turns out, the people he chose went on to say “Let’s get to work!” without his prompting.

Point number 3: If you pick the right people, they will lift the burden.

I didn’t wanna go here, but sometimes we choose to work with people that don’t have the desire and heart for the same things that we care about. In those cases, we find ourselves expending valuable energy trying to motivate them to help us, instead of using it for the actual mission at hand.

What I desire to be taken from this point, is that people who care about you may not have the same care for your vision. You don’t have to get rid of them,  just identify the role people are supposed to play in your life, and act accordingly.

Be encouraged!

You’re not alone and your mission and vision can be accomplished with the right group of people.

You don’t need to be overwhelmed, you need to be focused on the purpose it will serve when your vision becomes a reality.

I heard a sermon recently that was about perspective and I’m learning that life is centered around that concept. What you focus on is what will either push you forward or hold you back.

Try not to focus on how big the task is, but rather the enormous need it will meet once it is accomplished.

Let’s build for the Kingdom,

Kiana

 

God Knows My Heart

Yes, this is the obligatory February post related to the heart, in honor of Valentine’s day. But, it’s not about romantic relationships or love, really.

PLOT TWIST!

At this point in your life it is very likely that you have either said or heard the phrase “God Knows My Heart”. Most people say it in the context of them doing something wrong, or acting beneath the expectations of others.  They’ll say things like “I know I ain’t been at church in 3 Sundays, but God knows my heart.” It’s almost like we think God gives us an excused absence or a pass for our misdoings, because we assume He knows we have good intentions.

The thing about this saying is that, it actually is true. God does really know your heart. But what we think He knows, or what we hope He focuses on, is different than what He actually sees. 

The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

When God talks about knowing our heart, he really knows it. He can see past what you do or don’t do and He gets to the why of it all. He is more concerned about why you aren’t going to church, than He is about whether or not you show up. You can be sitting in church service with hatred toward someone in your heart. So the person showing up with hate and no conviction about it is no better than the person who stays home. Attending church services is pointless if you aren’t there to address the condition of your heart. Your appearance or outward actions aren’t always indicative of the person you really are, and that’s what God really knows.

But the Lord said to Samuel “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

We tend to look at people, the way they dress or even the personality they present in certain environments, and we construct notions about how good or bad they are. While only God can see their hearts and their true intentions. If you watch and discern long enough, their true intentions will eventually be evident to you, as well. My point here is, just like in the story of David, don’t think you know someone based on how they look or what you see them do. The person who seems to have the support of the masses could very well be the least qualified for what they’re trying to do. I mean look at our Pres…

The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:9-10

Have you ever wondered why it seems that people get away with doing terrible things? I’ve heard someone say “How could they do that; they’re heartless.”. Maybe they aren’t heartless. Perhaps their heart is so damaged that their heart deceived them into committing a terrible act.

God doesn’t allow us to “get away” with the wrong we do. He actually makes wise judgments about what’s in our heart, and He makes good decisions about us. He knows that our heart carries experiences and that we tend to make decisions from those experiences. The scripture describes the heart as desperately sick. God knows the traumas, disappointments, and circumstances that have shaped us. So yes, in this case, God knows our hearts. And because he knows our hearts, He is able to determine the root of our misdeeds.

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

Psalm 51:3-4

Above, David realized that he had done wrong, and he knew who ultimately would hold him accountable for it. He may have been faced with the judgment of others, but instead of saying “Well, God knows my heart.”, he went directly to God and repented. We often spend too much time explaining to people what we should be confessing to God. There’s no need to defend yourself when you’ve gone to the Father and repented.

Now that we understand that God truly does know our hearts, and the extent to which He knows it, we find that it’s unnecessary to get rid of the phrase. I must say, before I thought of it this way, I hated the phrase and thought people shouldn’t say it. My hope is that people are saying it with this context.

What do you think about the phrase “God Knows My Heart”? I’d love if you shared your response in the comments.