Residential Work, Holidays and Hope.

When was the last time you said to yourself, “I am blessed.” 

When was the last time you stopped and thanked God for all you have?

Warm weather, cold weather, struggles, fatigue and laughter, that’s what this month included. It also included Easter – A Holiday based on celebrating the miracle of life, new beginnings, reflection and joy. I knew that I’d be working the Holiday and struggled with it.

But when I woke Easter morning, I got to watch the glorious sun rise above the ocean as I drove into work. It was then that I paused an thanked God for my life, my family and my job. 

sunrise

The view Easter Sunday

The day should have been my usual 8 hour shift as a House Counselor at a residential program for teens. But those of us who work in fields such as Social Work, know that what “should be” is rarely what “is.”

So, as God saw it fit… My 8 hour shift became a hectic 12 hour shift.

Now, we’ve all felt the aggravation of not leaving work on time. The strain of feeling burnt out. The frustration that comes with the unexpected. And the guilt that comes from being away from family for longer than expected (especially on a Holiday). I’m sure we could all find a few choice words for such situations. But for some reason, even as the 10th hour approached, I found myself overcome with grace.

Let me explain. Most of the youth I’ve worked with don’t have the option of going home for the Holidays. Nor do they have family or friends to spend days with. That’s when I realized, I have no idea what it’s like to be in their situation. No right to claim I know what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. But through that heartache I came to realize – I’m the lucky one. Not because I get to go home at the end of the day or because I have a home to go to. I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to spend many Holidays with individuals from all walks of life. Individuals who have more strength and courage than I will ever know. Individuals who can teach us a thing or two about life. 

On many occasions, especially Holiday’s, while going about my day at work, a single thought crosses my mind – being someone these youth spend the day with is something I should be celebrating, not complaining about. We forget that they’re always watching; other’s are watching. Why shouldn’t we be celebrating moments like these? These youth have so much to give, we should feel blessed to get the opportunity to meet them!

We have all (in some way, shape or form) faced struggles. We all know that person who’s been hurting lately. We have all seen the news stories that break our hearts… this world is hurting. And our youth are trying to “figure it all out.” Now is the time to heal, love and support. Let other’s know they matter.

Anyone and everyone who is facing trials in life, YOU have so much potential and promise. You’re full of purpose – we all are. Too often we speak of changing this world, but so often we forget that changing this world is something we can do everyday. Every minute, we are given the opportunity to make a difference and better this world. Everyday, my job gives me the opportunity to show empathy, joy and dedication. I get to relay the message that there is more than what meets the eye.

Think about it… What message are we sending to our youth and others if we show up angry about needing to work? What hope are we giving them if we make them believe they are just a part of our job? A countdown to the second we can leave and go home? Wouldn’t these thoughts hurt you?

We all matter,” isn’t that what we tell our family & friends? Shouldn’t we let the youth of this world know that they matter too!

They deserve to know that they matter. That they’re important – their story is important. That there is more to them than their past, more than their current situation.

Their life has been hard, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached a dead-end. We aren’t there to make their life harder! We aren’t there to “fix” things – they don’t need to be fixed, they’re not broken! They’ve just been dealt some crap cards. 

What we should do is tell them, “life is hard, but worth working at!” We shouldn’t lie to them and tell them “it’ll be fine,” we don’t know that. What we do know is that life will keep throwing stones. So, let’s remind them that they are capable of making it through whatever predicament they may be facing. Tell them that life sucks and is unfair, let them know that it’s okay to face struggles and to be angry. But bring hope through those words. Honesty and support, it’s what they need, it’s what we all need.

Let them know they can make it! We can hold our heads no higher than theirs. We are all equal. We all deserve time to sort through things and time to start over. We all deserve to know that someone believes in us.

Whether we’re family, friends, coworkers or complete strangers, we all deserve to know that there will always be someone to share the day (or Holiday) with.

We cannot let the beautiful people in this world believe they are “paperwork.” They are not another section on our resume or just another speck on the map. They are human beings. They are just as important (if not more) than you and I. They have feelings just as we do. They have hopes and dreams for themselves. So please, let’s take this opportunity to help them get through it, teach them ways they can continue to healthily survive, give them “tools” they can use in the future. Life is a battle no one should have to face alone.

All that being said, from my heart to yours – I trust you are able to face daily struggles with a sense of hope. I pray you find peace within yourself and through the presence of others. I believe you are stronger than you know. And most of all, I hope you know you are never alone.

From one stranger to another, I am so proud of you for being alive,

Kylie

IMG_0782

“From one simple life to another, I will say, ‘Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray.'” -Sidewalk Prophets

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Ten Years Ago Today…

Ten years ago today I was sitting on a beach in San Diego, California with my cousin debating my existence. 

Ten years ago, I was struggling with my sexuality.  

I was lost and confused, trying to find some clarity; much of me believing I didn’t belong in this world. At the time, depression had boxed me in. I spent more time trying to navigate between right and wrong and how to exist without upsetting others than I did trying to let myself be me. 

Everyday was a battle against my demons: I had grown to believe that God hated me and therefore religion couldn’t possibly exist in my life. I believed my family was disappointed in me, and therefore I was unworthy of their love. And I felt my friends were unsure of me. All of which lead me to doubt myself and my choices. 

Unfortunately, despite the multitude of people in my life, I believed I was a disgrace to all of them. I knew I wanted to love, and couldn’t understand why that was so hard for people to understand. I spent most of my time apologizing for who I was, beating myself up for desiring someone of the same sex – I spent so much time doing it, I forgot how to live. 

2004, call it my personal blackout. I was so out of my mind depressed that I don’t remember much of that year. It’s painful to think about, to know that I felt that lost. 

Now, back to that sunny beach in San Diego. 

Call it fate, God remaining by my side, or just luck. Unsure of many details, I know that it had been some time since my mom and cousin had spoke, but in 2004 they did. The result of their conversation was me going to San Diego. 

Stereotypical lesbian moment, I listened to Tegan &Sara and T.A.T.U. on my CD player for the entire 6 hour flight. 

Stepping off the plane, I knew nothing of my cousins life for the last few years, and she knew nothing of mine. Two strangers, we greeted one another as if we had seen each other yesterday. (Now let me insert here, that growing up, her and I were inseparable. When I was a baby, she was the only one who could make me truly belly laugh. We had a special bond, and I felt comfort in knowing that). 

Anyway, she was busy with her life and I was confused and disoriented in mine. I spent everyday wondering the streets of San Diego and sitting on the beach. I remember eventually telling her about liking girls, I also remember waiting for her reaction to be judgement, only, it wasn’t. Instead, she looked at me and said “okay.” 

Looking back, I can only laugh at the expression that was probably on my face. I was so used to waiting for people to voice their opinion about how it’s “wrong” that her simple “okay” response and wanting to hear more about my first relationship with a girl, stunned me. Despite whatever may have been running through her mind, she let me speak, and while I spoke, she listened. I think it was then, that I began to come back to life. Began to realize that my life was just that – my life. 

My cousin and I didn’t spend too much time together, again, she had her life to attend to. But for the first time, I felt like I had my freedom back, I could do what I wanted, and didn’t feel like eyes were watching my every move. 

On February 16th, 2004, she took me to a beach. I remember her getting excited over finding a hammock someone had set up between two trees, she sat in it and I snapped a picture. We walked along the beach for a few, until the sun began to set. We sat ourselves in the sand and pulled out our journals. We chatted while we let ourselves express whatever we felt necessary in our journals. I didn’t write that day, instead I sketched a very simple outline of the view before me. 

I’m not sure why it was there or then, but it was there that my hope returned. Hope for life, for myself. Hope for better. 

2.16.04

2.16.04

I returned from my visit to California with a new sense of self. I still had those demons, still felt the judgement from others. But I also felt alive again, I felt strong and able. 

Now, let’s go back for a moment, don’t get me wrong, there were people in my life in 2004 who supported and loved me, people who had my back . But I was so unsure of myself and so depressed that I couldn’t see them. I only saw the hatred and judgement. So to my friends who were around in 2004, you know who you are – Thank You. Thank you with all my heart. To my family, I know we’ve had our moments of uncertainty; we’ve cried, yelled, argued, and debated, but through that, we loved. 

So, if you’re still reading this, thank YOU. As you know, we all face our own demons. And just as we’ve faced them, I’m sure many of us have also overcome them. If you’re facing something right now, know that you’re not alone and know that you have the strength to get through it.

 

It’s through God’s grace that I’m here today. 2004 was a difficult time of growing. A time of change. I can accept who I am now, and that doesn’t mean that times are all butterflies and rainbows, the difficult times are still there, but I’m okay with them. The pain reminds me that I’m alive.

I exist now in 2014 with my head held high. With a belief in God, with hope for this world, for myself, and for everyone else who may be struggling. I believe that every day we can make a difference by existing, by sharing our stories, by loving and supporting one another. 

We are all the same, this is our world, this is our time. Let’s cover it with what matters most: acceptance, kindness, support and love. 

To everyone STILL reading this, everyone who is or has been a part of my life, thank you for your kind heart, it means more than you will ever know.

Hugs & Hope, 

Kylie

 

Colossians 3:12

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

He has given us life. He has given us hope!

Easter = hope, life, transformation, change and victory!

1 Peter 1:3  “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

my "hope" ring 🙂

My mom used old silk ties to dye these Easter eggs, so fun!

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter Everyone!

 

Romans 6:8-11

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Listen to this amazing cover of “In Christ Alone” sung by Christina Grimmie. Her voice powerfully reflects the beautiful message the song carries. Listen to it, reflect upon it, and thank the Lord for all he has done!

Suffering for Doing Good, 1 Peter 3:8-17

1 Peter 3:8-17

Suffering for Doing Good

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Proverbs 4: A letter from parent to child.

Proverbs Chapter 4: Get Wisdom at Any Cost

This chapter is important for many reasons. A letter from a parent to their child, it discusses the difference between good and evil, how to stand strong against evil, how to protect yourself, and how to pursue goodness in life. It’s a chapter many, (if not all) can relate to and learn from in some way.

Beautifully written and heartfelt it’s one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.

Proverbs Chapter 4: Get Wisdom at Any Cost

1 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father,
still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me,
“Take hold of my words with all your heart; 
   keep my commands, and you will live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”

10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; 
   guard it well, for it is your life. 
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, 
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, 
   for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet 
   and be steadfast in all your ways. 
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

(copied from BibleGateway.com)

 

Let God be your strength!

Instead of writing about how awesome God’s love for us is and about how he is always there for us, I’ll let His word do the speaking.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” – Psalm 59:16

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding on one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:28-31

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11

truth!

God’s IS Love and God IS faithful

“There is nothing that can be added to or taken away from God’s love. It is complete. He cannot love you anymore than he does right now and his love for you yesterday was the same as it is today, and it will be the same tomorrow. And there is absolutely nothing that you can do to cause God to love you any less.” (taken from article posted below).

Read this AMAZING article by Bob Wells about “The Nature of God’s Great Love.” http://robertwells.tripod.com/godislove.html

It covers how endless and personal God’s love for us is, discusses attributes and characteristics of his love, how he has expressed his love to us, and more! It’s beautifully written and worth reading! Enjoy!

love is this. this is love.

“love is why we do it. love is worth the pain. love is when we fall down and get back up again.”

“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when I don’t feel it,  and I believe in God even when he is silent.”

A song made for the “It Get’s better project.” Such a powerful song!

“Maybe today seems cloudy and gray, so full of sorrow and tomorrow seems so far away, but it gets better, but It gets better.”