Category Archives: Jesus

Tangled Webs, Deception and Freedom

Right now there’s a lot of controversy surrounding a popular blogger who lied about some big things. No, I’m not that blogger. (Whew!) But I used to lie a lot. I still lie sometimes. I’ve been careful not to do it on my blog, but for a long time I lied to everyone. I get it. I’m not going to write a post defending her actions, but I do feel empathy toward her.

There are things from my past that are hard to talk about..hard to think about…that caused me to make mistakes that I shouldn’t have. Most people remember bright spots in their childhood, but I remembered the bad parts for a long time. I don’t talk about those things here because they’re too private. I don’t want to relive the past. I dealt with the issues, but I had to crash first.

I hit rock bottom a few years ago. I spent over a decade pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I didn’t do it because I felt the overwhelming need to impress everyone (though there were times when that was the case.) I did it I because my formative years were excruciating in some ways, and I became conditioned to be dishonest. I took responsibility for that a long time ago.

My sister grew up in the same place I did. We saw things that kids shouldn’t have to see, and we witnessed hurts that no one should have to endure. She didn’t become a liar. In fact, she grew into the opposite while I lied enough for the both of us.

I lied to get attention at times, but most of the time I lied because I didn’t realize that I could actually be who I wanted to be. I lived in a snowball effect of self-hatred, and it was easier to pretend that I was some  sort of impressive, elitist game changer than it was to pursue a path to become a person who facilitated change. I’m in my mid-thirties and just started figuring this out a few years ago even though it should have been obvious the whole time.

In short, it’s easy to say that lying is wrong, and it definitely is. The reasons that we do it just aren’t always quite so black and white. I didn’t do it to put one over on people, nor did I do it to be impressive. I lied because I despised myself and my life. I didn’t like the person I had become, and I felt completely worthless and helpless to change any of it. 

I lied for myself. It started as my attempt at self-preservation, and it turned into a way that I could feel loved (even though it wasn’t real.) I didn’t do it to hurt other people, but I did. I hurt people I was close to, many of whom forgave me without another thought. They allowed me to rebuild their trust, and now I have stronger relationships than I ever could have imagined.

There were a few who weren’t so gracious, and I get it. There are people who don’t think that I deserve forgiveness, and I realize that I have to accept that. I forgive myself anyway. I don’t need their approval the way I once did. Thankfully, most of the people in my life have shown grace.

I think that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to God too. We all make mistakes; we all sin. (Romans 3:23) He offers enough grace and mercy to cover us every single day. I don’t have to live in shame and unforgiveness because Jesus paid the price for every single sin before I even knew I’d commit it.

The blogger I mentioned in the beginning of this post lied, and there’s no excuse for it. I’m just saying that I feel for her because I know how hard it is to stop lying once you start. I’ve been there, and I think that if we’re all honest, we’ve all been there. She took it too far, and I’m not defending her actions.

When I lied I didn’t do it because it was fun; I did it to cover up the emptiness, loneliness, isolation, guilt, lethargy and shame that I allowed to define me. I lied to cover those things up. I figured that it was easier to falsely impress someone at least for a while than it would be to let them know me because if they knew who I really was, what would there be to like?

I was tired of feeling lonely, but I felt lonely anyway. Lying didn’t bring me closer to people. It helped to create surface relationships, but nothing lasted because I couldn’t let anyone know who I was. I hate that I wasted so many precious years trying to make everyone like me. I regret wasting so much time before realizing that I’d rather have a few friends who genuinely know me and like me than to be surrounded by people who never scratched the surface.

When I started blogging I learned that I could be myself and that people would probably still like me. When I started making friends in New Orleans, I laid everything out upfront. I told many of my friends, starting with Clint (aka The Suit) and many people at NOLA Church, that it was hard for me to be honest. I explained that it was rarely my default response, and through lots of prayer and graciousness from the people sitting on the front row of my life, I began facing the truth and putting into practice. (James 5:16-17 is pretty clear about how to handle that.)

I’m still tempted to lie sometimes pretty often. (I proved that recently when I talked about my potential to enter into an adulterous thing in a previous post.) Sometimes lying feels easier in the moment, but it gets out of control quickly.

I am so thankful that I’m no longer a slave to the self-loathing and lies that I used to allow to define my existence. I’m so thankful for God’s incredible and unwavering mercy that allows me to live in freedom every day. I’m thankful for the second chance that I received, and I sincerely hope that the popular blogger gets a second chance as well.

*****

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James 5:16-17

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Slippery Slope of Temptation 

We all know that sometimes doing the right thing is hard; sometimes it just sucks. I’ve been struggling with desires that aren’t exactly in line with what God wants for me (and by ‘not exactly in line’ I mean absolutely not in line with His will.)

I used to be really closed off. I know that’s hard to believe because I’ve been spilling my guts here for years, but it’s true. I like attention, and I don’t have to work hard to get it these days. That can be a good thing, but it isn’t always. 

I’d love to say that I don’t know what draws people to desire a friendship/relationship with me when I meet them, but I know exactly what it is. I have a pretty positive outlook. I have some cool characteristics to offer. I’m friendly, sincere, and I extend a lot of grace because it’s been extended to me. I listen more than I talk, which is a relatively new characteristic for me. (I’m still striving to improve that one.) In short, I’m kind of cool, blah,blah, blah…and I love people. 

A few months ago I met someone that I had seen nearly everyday for months prior. He’s tall and handsome, and I often felt the desire to pray for him even though I didn’t know him. Earlier this year a mutual friend introduced us, and a friendship was born. There hasn’t been a single day that we’ve crossed paths without him hugging me, having a seat, and exchanging stories about our day, our past, our favorite grocery store, etc. 

He’s adorable and easy to talk to, and lately I’ve found myself struggling to keep boundaries in place in my mind even though he’s married. We have absolutely not done anything inappropriate outside of my agreement with his acknowledgment that we need to be careful with each other. We’re always in public, and we’re typically surrounded by other people that I know who come in to chat. I’ve just noticed that I think about him even when he’s not there. (I’m thinking about him now, and he’s not here.) 

I’m acknowledging this here for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s the truth, and I face the truth now even when I don’t like it, and 2. Loving Jesus doesn’t mean that life suddenly becomes perfect. Yes, He paid the price for my sins, and He extended His grace because without it, I’d be damned to hell. I’m so thankful for that, but I still struggle with doing the right thing. Right now I’m struggling more than I’d like to admit, but I’m facing it anyway. 

Religion likes to make us believe that once we become believers that we’ll no longer have problems. Religion urges us to act as though we no longer face temptation. God didn’t promise that life would be filled with sunshine and rainbows. Actually, Paul said just the opposite. In some ways, at least in this moment for me, it’s harder to fight the desire to sin. I didn’t feel tempted nearly as often when Satan wasn’t bothered by me; now he preys on my weaknesses, so I have to be on guard constantly. 

I have no plans to act on any of the thoughts that have played in my mind over the last week or so, nor will I be throwing him on the floor to do ungoldly things at any point…ever. I just won’t. I value myself more than that, and I value my relationship with God a lot more than that. There are lines that I simply won’t cross, but it would be naive of me to think that I’m immune to falling on my face if I try to deal with this without inviting God into the situation. (God knows I’ve done it a million times in different circumstances.) 

The thing is…Jesus was very clear when He said that anyone who even looks at another person lustfully has already committed adultry in his heart. (Matthew 5:28) Ouch!

God takes repentance very seriously, yet I seem to be struggling with turning away from my sinful thoughts (which include a desire for more attention from him among other things.) Confessing these feelings won’t change anything unless I stop giving them space in my mind, yet I’m having trouble wanting to do that too. 

The man is often at a place that I frequent, and that won’t likely change in the immediate future. I like him. I want to be his friend. I want him to experience the love and grace that I’ve experienced since getting to know Jesus. I just need to get out of the way so that can happen. 

Proverbs 19:23 says that the fear of the Lord leads to life, and He who has it will abide in satisfaction. In Monte’s sermon yesterday, which was timely, he said that living satisfied is a choice. Jesus is all I need, and I know that if I focus on Him, he’ll work this out just as He has in every other situation. 

My goal is to focus on who He is, to worship Him, and to fill my mind with gratitude for that and all He’s doing. He’ll just have to take care of the rest, and He will because, you know, He’s God and everything. 

Two Years Later

I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I first walked in to NOLA Church. I know I gush about it frequently, but it’s because of the incredible impact being there has had on my life. 

When I arrived I was broken and in desperate need of the radical life change that Paul described in Romans. I was drowing in sin, directionless, and I was scared to change any of it. 

I thought I had to get my act together before I could turn to God. I knew what the Bible said about repentance, which is the act of turning away from sin. I just wasn’t ready to turn away; I honestly didn’t know where to begin.

My sins felt so big; my shame felt all-encompasing. At the same time I was filled with pride. I wanted the folks around me to know that I had grown up in church. I know verses like Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 29:11. I had tons of Bible passages memorized, even the one in John when Jesus says that we’ll have troubles, but don’t worry because He’s overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I knew all about Him, but it wasn’t until I showed up (and kept showing up) that I began to understand the difference between knowing about Him and having a relationship with Him.

I wrote about that a year ago. Those changes were significant, but I’ve gone through many new changes over the last 365 days. I’m definitely still in a season of major change, but it’s cool to look back at where I was and where I am right now.

At this time last year I had experienced a lot of growth, but I was still struggling with surrender. I struggle with it now, but it’s not as hard to invite God into my situations as it once was. 

The first time I met with my pastor, Monte, he said, “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable” or something like that. I remember looking at him like he was crazy (and a little scary) because I love comfort. I seek it constantly…through food, relationships, and all kinds of other things that provide momentary satisfaction. I didn’t understand what he meant back then, but I do now. 

Surrender isn’t easy; it’s not comfortable, but it’s important to recognize that without God, I’m nothing. I mean, if you know me, you know that I haven’t always made perfect choices. I’ve made mistakes; I’ve been too dependent on things for satisfaction. I’ve been wrong a lot. 

In January of last year I had an opportunity to surrender my feelings to God, and I said, “no way.” I was prepared to fight Him for something that I didn’t really want instead of asking what He wanted from me. I did things my way once again because it was too scary to let go, and as a result I went through a lot of unecessary pain. 

For months I refused to ask God to intervene in that circumstance. I gave other things up (things that I liked that I knew didn’t please Him,) which made me feel as though I had given up enough. (Uh, note to self: God’s way is so much better.) I did not yet understand that I’ll never surrender something to Him that He doesn’t replace with something better. 

In July of last year I had an even bigger crisis of faith. I wasn’t prepared to give God what was already His in financial circumstances (tithing,) and after the realization that God doesn’t need my money, I started tithing because I wanted to put Him first in every part of my life (even money.) That wasn’t exactly easy to do because I like to be in control. I’ve always taken pride in being autonomous, and I still am. I just choose to say, “Hey God, I trust you to be My Provider,” and He has been so faithful. (God is awesome like that.) 

Life didn’t suddenly become perfect because I love Jesus. I still struggle with food and other things. I know that my desire to eat more than I should is something I have to surrender. (Again, I’ve proven that I can’t do it on my own.) I’ve also been open about how hard it is to turn away from it.) I just know that life without God sucks, but knowing Him gives me so much hope. 

In looking back I see that I’ve grown in my relationship with God. I’m not as self-centered as I was, and I love sharing His love with everyone I meet. I want others to feel the peace, joy, and contentment that I feel because of His mercy and unconditional love. I get passionate about it because  it has radically altered my entire life. 

I couldn’t have imagined all of the amazing changes that I would experience the first time I went to NOLA Church. I am so thankful for God’s love and for the community of people there who have walked with me on this incredible journey so far. 

I’m humbled and amazed by God’s willingness to use me as His vessel, and I’m already looking forward to seeing where that leads in the next year. As long as Jesus stays at the center, I know it will be better than I can imagine.

*****

You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Romans 2:3-4 (The Message)

End of the Year Reflection

Each year, as it comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the last twelve months, and this year is no different. I was wasting time on Facebook last week when I decided to join everyone else in a Facebook contrived review of my year, and according to Facebook I was completely lame. If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with the little slideshow of photos that the site puts together for you. Mine showed a salad, a few silly photos with friends and nothing at all that I would consider noteworthy. The truth is that some of the coolest moments of 2014 didn’t make it to Facebook.

Even though Facebook might disagree, I did some cool things this year. I met my newest niece (actually I met her last Christmas, and I saw her again in April when I visited Colorado.)  I celebrated Hannah’s 5th birthday with my family in CO, and I can’t wait to head that way again soon. It’s been way too long for Auntie!

I spoke at an airline conference in Washington, D.C., and I met with executives from several major airlines in order to promote positive change within corporations that have the power to turn the tide.

JetBlue

I accidentally reconnected with an old friend for a day in front of the White House. I was able to hug her, apologize to her for the things that I did wrong and enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing with her. It was completely random, and I am thankful that it happened that way.

Kenlie White House

I took on a more active role as a worship leader at NOLA Church, and my voice and skills have grown. My relationship with Jesus has grown too. I also hosted a pretty cool small group in which I made a new and awesome friend.

Kenlie NOLA Church

I was given the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe and perfected it.

I watched countless Christmas movies with Mom throughout the year.

I helped a few kids gain confidence in their abilities to succeed in school.

I went to Fitbloggin for the fourth year in a row in Savannah, GA and connected with friends who didn’t allow me to feel out of place (even though I did for the first time.)

Mission Meltdown Epic Selfie

I dined at the newest, hottest restaurants in New Orleans with friends and private jet pilots. (They didn’t offer to fly me anywhere though. Ha.)

I bought a new car.

I became a Starbucks gold card member.

I saw George Strait and Reba perform live with Clint before he moved to Chicago.

I visited Oklahoma and spent several days with Dad while it was about 3 degrees outside.

I went to my first New York Mets game at Citi Field. (I’m still a Yankees fan, but this was a pretty stellar way to spend my birthday.)

New York Mets

I got closer to finishing my degree at Tulane.

I survived heartbreak and salvaged a relationship that meant a lot to me.

I cultivated relationships with friends and made some new ones as well.

Kenlie and Friends

I went out on some dates with interesting guys, though I didn’t meet the Future Mr. Kenlie. Ha I did get to watch my close friends say “I do,” which was pretty amazing. I’ve never been happier to see anyone marry.

French Quarter Wedding
Overall I guess my year was relatively routine and low key. It definitely had some ups and downs, but I can’t tell you how cool it is to feel like I have roots somewhere. I doubt I’ll stay in New Orleans forever, but I’m happy here now.

I’m thankful that I’ve lived in the same place for a couple of years, and I’m looking forward to living in the same place for even longer. I like my location, my neighbors, my view and my surroundings.

After a few tumultuous and/or eventful years, it’s okay to look back on 2012 as quiet and satisfying. Maybe I’ll do something more exciting in 2015, or maybe I’ll just kick back and enjoy my quiet, friends and family filled life.

Here’s to a bright 2015 for all of us…

 

Does God Care That I’m Fat?

There’s no commandment in The Bible that says, “Thou shalt exercise daily,” but there is definitely a commandment that says to put God first. I’ve been thinking about what that means as I continue to grow in my relationship with Him, and I find myself wondering whether or not I’m committing idolatry. The answer is most definitely yes, at least sometimes, and I want to change that.

Gluttony is a sin.  Too often I find myself overindulging and putting the desire to eat above my desires for other things – including God. I’ve had to repent over this more than once or twice, and it’s still a struggle that I deal with almost everyday.

Luckily, in Romans 8:38-39, it is clear that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves me even though I’m plus-size. Whew! I’m even more thankful for that than I am for His grace. It still amazes me when I think about how much Jesus loves me, and with that, I believe that He wants what’s best for me.

I don’t think that doing what is “best for me” means that I need to be a size zero. I don’t even think it means that I need to be a size 8, even though that would be cool. I’m not sure what it means in terms of precise numbers, but I know that some things still need to change.

It has been almost two weeks since I had a sugary drink from Starbucks. I committed to going 30 days without indulging in an iced caramel macchiato (or anything else that isn’t plain coffee or tea,) and it hasn’t been a difficult as I thought it would be. The lack of doughnuts in my life hasn’t been as difficult as I thought either, but there’s a lot more than I need to change.

Yesterday my friend, Tracey and I, had one of those awesome conversations about life that you can only have with people you trust completely, and she suggested asking God to give me the willingness to make better choices everyday. Maybe at some point I’ll have the courage to ask Him. Right now, in all honesty, I’m scared of failing and scared of succeeding.

I don’t know how God feels in regards to what I should weigh, but I do know that what He wants is all of me. He wants everything that I am – the good and the bad. It’s easier to give Him the good stuff because letting go of the tough stuff means having to trust Him. I’m working on that, but it’s not easy…not even a little bit.

When I look at myself through the lens of God’s character, I can only conclude that He wants me to put Him first – before caramel macchiatos, before doughnuts, before money, before relationships…He wants me to be healthy.

It’s always hard to admit how weak I am, but maybe that’s exactly what I need to do. My favorite passage in The Bible is 2 Corinthians 12:9, in which Paul says, But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I guess that means that I need to embrace my weaknesses and continue to let God work in me. I know that I need to invite Him into this situation. That’s what prayer is, then I have to ask Him to give me strength to be who He wants me to be.