Wednesday, December 31, 2014

so long, peculiar treasures.

     Peculiar Treasures, you have been so good to me. This link has met so much more than a '.com' to me, & I hope, for so many of you. I published my first words here that anyone could read - even before I tweeted or shared my thoughts on Facebook. You & I have went through a lot together in these past almost-four years. I have discovered more of who I am as a person, as God's daughter, & as a writer.
     But most good things have to come to an end. This will be my last regular-blog post here at PT.
     A new format has been itching under my skin for several months now. I will be launching my new blog - 1999 - in this new year. I am so excited for the fresh face of 2015. This chapter has closed, but I will begin writing a new one as soon as possible. In the words of Taylor Swift, "I've woken up every day not wanting, but needing to write a new style of music. I needed to change the way I told my stories and the way they sounded." Consider this my genre change. I'm staying true to my roots. But I'm acknowledging that every single day, we all change. I have been reborn & 2015 is the year my writing will be as well.

     Thank-you, friends for following me from day one. We've traveled from here.

      To here. 

      I couldn't be more grateful for how much I've grown up here. I also couldn't be more excited for how much more will take place over here at!

     Thank-You, Jesus, for using me here. Continue Your good work in me. May they hear more of You than they ever hear of me. 

     I'll close with our girl Taylor, "I've told you my stories for years now. Some have been about coming of age. Some have been about coming undone. This is a story about coming into your own, and as a result... coming alive. I hope you know that you've given me the courage to change. I hope you know that who you are is who you choose to be, and that whispers behind your back don't define you. You are the only one who gets to decide what you will be remembered for."

     So long, Peculiar Treasures, until we meet again. I'll never forget you. 

With a sniffle & a smile -
Yours truly & sincerely,
Emilee Kaye

Thursday, December 11, 2014

lattes of summer 2014.

Everyone needs a touch of summer in their winter. 

Every place has a story to tell. Or in this case, every latte has a story to tell (& a few have more than just a yummy recipe).


It was our last night in Ecuador. Most of our large team had decided to stay up all night because we would begin the security process at 4AM. Our day had already been a full one: we were touched by air conditioning for the first time in days, traveled in a bus for several hours, visited an iguana park, a cathedral, walked up & down 900 round trip steps to see the lights atop of Las Penas, said our tearful goodbyes to dear friends we'd just gotten close with, & had an exhausting team meeting on how to share about our experiences back home. I'd just had a fresh dose of extra-strength Tylenol & slipped on my first pair of shorts since the week before.

     We may have been in a rural area serving all week, but just an hour and a half from our new home away from home is the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. The population is 2.69 million people. The views are breathtaking. The city resembles more of America to me than I have ever experienced in another country, but it has it's remarkable differences, too. The smells can be described, but never truly justified in words. The air was consistently humid even after the sun went down & the people speak at record speed.

     It was right there, in a sleek modern airport in a corner of Ecuador (a country that I didn't know existed until last year) that I walked back with one of our chaperones sipping from my coffee cup slowly at 2AM. I sat in that airport on an uncomfortable string of benches surprisingly energized. I sat there writing in my journal how hard it been to say goodbye to my sweet new friends & how painful (& rewarding) it was to climb 450 stairs. There's no way to prepare yourself fully for flying over a country you've just fallen in love with, not knowing when you're going to return. You're intoxicated by the thought of going home to normalcy, but you lose a part of your heart. Or maybe that's just me. I lost a part of my heart as we flew over Guayaquil, Ecuador at 7 o' clock that next morning. It was left in a tiny little church that is passionate about God's companionship & salvation.  I knew that what had happened that week was something as beautiful as sacred ground. When your cup overflows, make sure to sip slowly. Every experience, every place you take your suitcase, is molding you into the person you'll be tomorrow. Savor every step. 


     It was my last few hours in Uganda. This summer I made a rule for myself: when you're preparing to leave a country in a matter of hours, take less pictures & just soak it in. For obvious purposes, I took several pictures as my trip ended, but I kept myself accountable to sip slowly. I knew that all of it was going to be over all too quickly. I would need those moments where I sat back, looked into the eyes of the foreign countries people - God's people - & say, "This is Uganda". "This is Ecuador" & I've had the privilege to have the pictures come to life. I've made a child giggle & acted as someone risen from the dead here, because Jesus rolled the stone away making way for them to be raised, too. A photo says a thousand words, but that's not enough. My memory would be most stimulated when I thought of how I prayed over the city of Guayaquil as we practically stood on top of it or how I cried silent tears when God spoke to me in the Entebbe traffic.
     We had been driving all day long. The city of Entebbe and the capital Kampala are... loud. There are people yelling, horns being honked, motorcycles weaving in & out of taxi buses. There are people walking everywhere & there are more people on the street corner than inside their buildings. The city is filled with action & it can be overwhelming, but there's not many things I love more than to be in the middle of it all.
     This particular latte is unique, because I ordered it at a coffee shop in a mall in the 'big city' to find that the cups had Greek words written on the side. Greek is a dead language overall. You can imagine my excitement - I screamed when I revealed to everyone around me that my favorite language had been written on this cup. "God loves me" I said, even though this wasn't the proof. I was aching with needing to leave, but God sent me a message on a side of a coffee cup: I love you this much. I care about the details of your life as much as I care about theirs. I'll take care of your family here in Uganda & your family in Ecuador better than you can, even when you're there. I've got these children & wanderers, Emilee. Submit them to me. You'll be back.
     So I laughed hard & sipped slowly & hugged tight. He's got the whole wide world in His hands.


     Using Snapchat for the first time in two weeks can be embarrassingly exciting. I'm coming home, baby I sang. It was a foggy day in London town. (I also, annoying for everyone around me, sang that song our whole entire layover. There were no gates open, so we walked right off the plane on a little stairway with steep mist-covered steps. I had only seen pictures of celebrities walk off planes like that at Heathrow & I was grateful that it all worked out as it did. The only reason I found the clouds even more beautiful is because I WAS IN LONDON. Everything is beautiful when you choose to be fascinated with the smallest details. Heathrow is a huge airport, but I became familiar with the whole place's sense of direction as I finally had the chance to shop around after their extensive security processes. Our group had several hours to burn before we needed to find our gate. I wanted to check Twitter, decided to wait, edited pictures from the Mediterrean Sea sunrise earlier that morning, & SnapChatted friends that were all asleep at home with my 45 minutes of free WiFi. I bought tea & a mug & drank my Starbucks usual. Walking by British people with strong accents was a personal favorite of mine. 
     I may have been heartbroken to leave, but there is nothing like coming home from thousands of miles away. 

Late August

     A new season with good friends. Maxi skirts & memories. Loud Taylor Swift songs & taking detours. My summer had not yet ended, everyone's school year had begun. I sat with my friend AuDrey after our full day walking around KSTATE. Kansas was still warm with only teases of Autumn. I talked with a twinkle in my eye about boys that break hearts without knowing it & love yearned for & C.S. Lewis & being content after mountain-top experiences. We made promises to ourselves that are hard to keep, but worth it.

     A book end.

     An invitation to bring these experiences that God wrote in my heart into a life well lived in this season & beyond.

let your fear be righteous

     One of my biggest fears, just below flying in airplanes & going under anesthesia, is writing insincerely to you. I don't want to be a hypocrite or say things because I know it's what you want to hear - or what I know I should believe.
     That is the reason, almost 90% of the time, why you don't hear from me on a weekly basis. Because this last month has been rough & rushed & that last word is against everything I believe about a grateful life. I don't want to write something that is hypocritical or unnecessary or screams naive teenage girl. But I've managed to slow time by making lists of things I'm thankful for big & small, by taking time to create, by letting people know I'm thinking about them. "Trust is the antithesis of stress" is what Ann Voskamp says. Every day is a test for how well we trust God. How well we prioritize what's really important. Like going shopping with a girlfriend that will be in college at this time next year when she has a day off school & taking time out of my day to sincerely hug a kiddo that needs to know that not all big kids just look down at them.
     As someone that knows what feeling truly alone feels like, I have this desire to let everyone know that being alone is the last thing that describes them. In fact, it doesn't define them at all.
     I want to be one of those people that is intuitive. Someone that can read what's going on in between the lines. Someone who has the decency & - moreover - the passion to make someone feel truly loved, cared for. Someone who might just give a hug, a compliment, or a good laugh. I want to be someone that people get excited to see, because they know me for my prayer life & my kindness. I want to write what I am itching to scream to the world - & I don't want to be hindered to say those things by my ugly bully of insecurity.
     What's really important takes dying to yourself. 
     I'm feeling worn, y'all. Straight up exhausted (with an occasional side of no motivation).
     But that's not a good enough excuse to sit on the sidelines & simply watch all of these other exhausted people walking around. We're all the same. We need each other. We need to be pictures of Christ in our weakness & in our strengths. There comes a time for rest - & there is a time to act on the golden rule. If you're feeling this particular way in this season, how can you encourage someone else in a similar situation? If we want to make an impact, we have to fill up with Jesus & literally subtract ourselves from the entire equation.
     I talk about (not really random) acts of kindness more than I could count on my two hands I'm currently typing with. I write & talk about these things - these love letters - because they matter.
     What you desire to say to the world - whether it's how you raise your kids or write that paper or work with your hands - matters to God. The Message says that we are bankrupt without love.
     So, when this year ends, don't look back on it & see a lack of love. I encourage you to make an outline of the main events that happened this year. Look back over that list. When you look at those situations & circumstances, how can you move forward ministering to other people in love through your unique experiences?
     The last thing I not only want for myself, but for you, is to begin your next year feeling insincere, unloved, or regretful. We have the chance to jump start our new ways of life before the new year.
     Let your only fear in taking these new steps be only in this: fearing the Lord & fearing being insincere. Let it be that your fear is not what people will think when you step out in faith, but who will remain unloved or unreached if you don't.  Let your fear be missing glimpses of God in your everyday life, in your sojourner's eye.
     In five years, what will you regret not doing more of - or less of - today?
     I can't answer that question for you. So go find your answer.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

women of Jesus' genealogy: scandalous, broken, & redeemed

     Our church, my beloved CCCOV, began our Advent Preparations this morning. One of our ways of doing that was by giving out Women Advent Devotionals written by some of the women of our church themselves! I was honored to be in the mix. Here is my original contribution:

     I’m in love with the Christmas season. When stores hang up their glittery ribbons and red cups begin to stock in the back room of Starbucks stores around the world, my heart rejoices. I love snow flurries and long walks in them that turns my nose and cheeks a vibrant red. I love celebrating Jesus’ birthday in a hundred different traditions. If I’m not careful, that’s all that Christmas becomes for me.
     Especially during this time of year, you might feel obligated to sugar coat yourself. You might think that Jesus (or your kids, or husband, or friends) need your peppiness more than He (or they) needs your heart. It’s time we’re honest with ourselves, honest with one another, and honest about our sacrifices.
     I struggle with deep loneliness on a daily basis. If I hadn’t chosen to begin to take daily victory over it in 2010, it would have swallowed me whole by now. I am beyond sensitive and emotional. Most days, I measure my worth to be loved in my abundance or lack of inappropriate thoughts or my silly productivity. In the words of Taylor Swift, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they've thrown at me.
     I’m broken. I‘m a sinner. I am not perfect.
      I’m also brave. The moments when I open up and let the church see my true colors - that’s where I find life. Jesus fills my deep void when I healthily commit to Him and then to His church. I’ve read this truth recently that states that we’re on this earth simply to walk one another home. We can’t walk each other home if we’re too busy in our errands that go nowhere for the Kingdom or if we’re too worried about our self-esteem being hurt in the process of vulnerability.
     The five women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1 are apart of this sinning humankind in situations that seem to chase us wherever we go.  We have more in common with the people in Jesus’ lineage than you might think. 
     Those five women are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
     Tamar was an adulteress that tricked her father-in-law into laying with her in order to receive more power, only to create more chaos in her already frantic life.
     Rahab was a prostitute. She was greatly used by God, but we remember her as an adulteress woman. Imagine how her community’s confusion when she all of the sudden came under God’s calling for her life.
     Ruth is remembered as a godly and loyal woman, as she should be. But she is of the Moabite heritage, a rebellious people, and disgrace was associated with her name.
     Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, caused much turmoil wherever she went. She was an adulteress. Her husband, Uriah, was soon murdered by the man she was having sexual relations with, King David. They soon learned that covering up lies just creates more lies. Opening up with the promise of repentance was - and is - the only light at the end of the tunnel.
     The Son of God grew in Mary’s womb, but because she became pregnant, Joseph had the power to have her stoned in the culture they lived in. Instead of the virgin that she truly was, they had every reason to believe she had committed adultery. At the age of thirteen, she already had wrinkles on her face from shame. She had almost lost everyone. But Mary had an even more powerful strength given from God for the specific calling on her life. Imagine her gratefulness when Joseph decided to join her in that faith, too.
     Disgrace. Hopelessness. Sin. Brokenness.
     These women are all in the family tree and blood of Jesus Christ. The blood that cleanses us from all similar sin.
     Jesus doesn’t see our weakness as our worth. He came for our weakness. In this Advent season, we have the privilege of celebrating this. Jesus is perfect, but his earthly circumstances surrounding Him were not. His lineage is the perfect example of the kind of people His children are - sheep in need of someone to guide them.
     As we go through this next season and beyond, we need to reflect on why the Holy Spirit chose to highlight these five women in the genealogy of Jesus.  Their names could have been hidden for the sake of Jesus’ family being less messy without them. But God hand-picked their stories to reveal His faithfulness to us. We’re not alone in our struggle. The only way we can truly worship the Lord this Christmas season, is if we let go of our unrealistic expectations for ourselves and, instead, give ourselves as a gift. Like the innkeeper, we’re overbooked and just plain exhausted. Give Him your weariness. Jesus came to give Himself to us. He wants our journey, our heart, more than our turns-to-rust gold. This won’t be glamorous. But if it’s real, it’s Kingdom worthy. In the beautiful chaos of popsicle stick snowflakes with your kiddos, multitudes of hot drinks, and masses of presents, let His Presence revive your dry bones this Christmas. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

if i had been tweeting: Ecuador & Uganda 2014

   Do you believe in the saying 'Better late than never'? Yes? Splendid. Because this summer during those beautiful three weeks of no social media, I kept track of what I would have been tweeting if I would have been near WiFi. We'll start with Ecuador on July 8th excited for my summer of brand new adventures & stretch to August 15th when exhaustion was overtaking me & home was within reach.
   Enjoy the good, the bad, & the ugly of the simple tweets of my mission trips. I recorded these in my journal day by day. 

   ECUADOR 2014

-Sitting in the airplane before take off is just like the alchohol swab before the shot. #apprehensionstinks 

-Jkz. Flying is horrible & I'm anticipating being in South America. #soon&verysoon 

-When you sit next to strangers (even if they're an answer to prayer) you have to act brave; which leads to silent screaming.

     So I mainly tweeted about flying for most of my trips. But, trust me, it was simply because I didn't have time to write down tweets about everything I wanted to when I was working on the most important thing day after day - relationships.


   Approaching supper time with no food in my stomach but a strip of beef jerky & total exhaustion from running through airports with rude staff... 

-I really should've taken Mom up on that offer for a nut roll before I left. 

-Remember when I said I hated flying? They just brought me a Dr. Pepper. #temporarilyhappy #anditwasthelastone #score 

   On one particular flight, the only flight all summer I sat by 'myself', I got my very first view of the ocean! I was in awe. For the beginning of that flight, I kept the window closed, due to the fact that I wasn't going to look down. But when I opened that window to take a peek, to see if the sights had changed, I saw this. My first view of the ocean. I couldn't stop smiling for a half an hour as I gazed at the clear water below. 

-That gahhgeous ocean, though. 

   ...& apparently I was lost for intelligent words as well. 

-Oh, just listening to Spanish radio with Ranson & interpreting the song based on tone of voice. Lizzie McQuire & HSM belting was also a highlight. #internationalmemories 

   That flight mentioned above was one of my favorites. Singing, dancing, giggling, & landing in Guayaquil was so much fun. The lights of the city were beautiful & I was traveling with a slap happy, clever group. Not every mission trip member can say they landed in a brand new country singing the 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's theme song, now can they? 

   This was the next day, after we'd settled into our host's home at 2AM & gotten a nice-considering-the-circumstances nights sleep. 

-Walking through cocoa fields on the way to lunch... #wegottotasteittoo

-Some people need to accept the ten second rule. Right, Evan? #necessary 

   You may have had to been there.....

-Sitting in the middle of Ecuador, under a palm tree. #thebeautifulsweatylife

   There were many plants surrounding our family's house (including COFFEE)! It was beautiful.
   Also, sweaty is an understatement. Believe me when I say that it was unbelievably hot.


-So, um, I just asked an American girl here how she & her husband met during our second conversation. #ilovelovestories

   As this picture portrays, our standing-in-line-for-the-bathroom conversations sprung into a sweet friendship by the end of the week. 

-Shout out to SheaSmith for not pushing me off our bed while I was hogging it. 

      Our living room converted bedroom was full, to say the least. 

-Two churches, two languages, one God. 

-What we do to entertain ourselves... #waterbottlebalancing 

      This is what a late night among traveling teenagers with no WiFi looks like.

-It's easier to public speak when you have a translator beside you, surprisingly. 

-Oh, to finally be used to the beautiful mix of English & Spanish. 

-It rained this morning & the mist under these fruit trees is blissful. #thethingsthatbringjoyinEcuador

-@chloejane73 "I read it on Pinterest is has to be true!"

   One day, we piled 17 people on the back of a pick-up truck & headed to a banana plantation. I know, it's not something you get to do everyday. On our slightly-bumpy ride that was an absolute blast this was requested to make my list of tweets:

-Jesus is bae. 

     The day declined. I was in pain from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday night due to my surgery in May. It brought a lot of tears & messiness to my personal trip, because I wasn't able to do several important activities or be fully useful at the activities I was already at. But, for some reasons I'm still not sure of, God worked through all the pain (literally & figuratively), like He always does.

-I'm so thankful that there's a doctor on board. #graciousDrPenner

-That's Entertainment in Ecuador, folks. #MrAladdinSir #goEvan

-Late night conversations with my favorite couple in the kitchen make me laugh deep. 

-Oh, the joys of seeing Ricardo after being in a house by myself with only Spanish speaking people. 

    ^for what seemed like hours. It was one of the hardest things I made myself do - not go door to door to evangelize in the community. I was completely alone in South America, besides a kind-hearted woman & a few young girls that only spoke Spanish. I was able to read a tiny bit, but mainly rest  & listen to nature outside our windows. I cried as the sky got darker & darker outside our window, because I wanted to be with my team. Looking back, it was one of the most stretching & beautiful afternoons in Ecuador - maybe because it made me appreciate Ricardo's familiar face & my team's loud banter like never before.

-Bo & Paige win at life because they've seen me leaving-a-foreign-country-ugly-cry twice. 
     It's not pretty. Just sayin'.

-So bitter & bueno. 

     Wrote this on our bus ride back to the city of Guayaquil. I sat by myself, enjoyed me first air conditioning in seven days, & wrote about the the sadness of leaving our wonderful host church. 

-The man that admitted me to the U.S. again called Michael Bublé bad names & this is not okay with me. 


   UGANDA 2014 


-You know you're not in Kansas when a single KSTATE shirt is not available to purchase at the airport gift shop.

-Keep speaking to me, British people. #DallasToLondon 

-I'm basically the happiest person on the planet. I'm back! #theresreddirt #andmybelovedfamily

-Ugandan people speaking my name will not grow old. 

-When it says to not grumble & complain, that doesn't include to your journal, does it? #imisscertainpeople #icouldusesomesnugglingblackbabytime

-Home sweet guesthouse. #iloveuganda #oursafehaven

-First a whale, now an elephant... #youdontwannaknow #latenightgiggles @Dana @Diane @MommaV

-Slashing grass, cooling pooridge, car washing, & counting... #allinadaysUgandanwork

-Just scarfed a whole bag of beef jerky. #unashamed

-"I imagine Jesus cut loose a couple of times..." #lolz

-Not very many people can wake up in a banda in Uganda with one of their best friends saying, "I brought you coffee!" #blissfulmornings

-Carpetball with Lake Victoria in the background is a much different experience. 

-Count it all as gifts... #PreachGospelToMyself

-Being reminded of a God that stoops on our behalf. 

-Sometimes when you're in Uganda & you take a morning off for sanity, you need to lay in your tent, listen to the rain, & have some TSwift therapy. 

-I've met or reunited with so many beautiful people this summer. #thelistgoesonandon 

-I'm at that emotionally-unstable-because-I-don't-want-to-leave-but-these-people-are-driving-me-crazy phase.

   I love my team y'all, but after being with any group of people you don't usually live with for two weeks straight...The Lord gives you many character-building opportunities. I may not have accepted them too well after a full summer. 

-If they only knew... #finishthatsentence 

-Apparently security chooses the girl that is sobbing to randomly inspect her whole bag. #leavingUganda #itwasme

-Knowing how to get around at the London airport... #thelittlethings

-I'm going to miss these British passengers & flight attendants. #BritishAirways #classypeopleallaround 

-Update on Emilee's life: I still hate flying. #justsayin #twomore 

     There it is, folks. A simple glimpse into the not-so-glamorous side of mission trips. Don't let this be the only blog you read about Ecuador & Uganda. ;) I'm so glad I wrote these, because it was a way for me to jot down quick memories if I didn't have time to journal about them. Thanks for reading.

     Have a beautiful rest of your week, mi amigos! 

Much love,

P.S. I miss introducing myself as Emilia. Tear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

when your midweek feels like defeat


Emma Watson.
Emma Watson

     I've been known spend too much in the past. If we were all honest with ourselves, we might notice that we spend too much time there. But if we do it in such a way - it's healthy - even necessary. We need the strength of yesterday's sorrows & the joy of it's victories. Life is a string of memories. How does a simple thing turn into a memory we relive? Someone is brave. Someone is brave enough to face rejection. Someone has twenty seconds of insane courage to do something that they wouldn't do if insecurity was holding them back. Someone is brave enough to simplify, to not glorify being busy. Someone is brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Someone is brave enough to choose immeasurably-more instead of so-so (even if it's scary).

     It's interesting to me how year by year, weather doesn't really change. The same trees change the same color during that certain week of the year. But every year at this time - over the sound of crickets & my tea studying sidekick - the way I see all of these changes does. With each passing year, I can either live in wonder of a God that is majestic. Or, I can choose to get caught up in me - but every part of me that He doesn't nurture. My flesh. My I-really-just-don't-want-to-spend-time-with-Him-today side. The side that comes out most often.
     I can't let that discourage me, though. Because as I look across the past few years, I know that each year's situation may get worse - but my outlook gets better.
     Because I have a patient God, friends that are brave, and a dare to begin to change the world one faithful act at a time.
     There's more mundane tasks than adventurous when following Jesus. But that doesn't mean that they are not equally important. Sharing the Gospel to children in two different continents this summer that may have never heard about Him before? That's easy. That looks good, feels good, sounds adventurous. It's a commandment: GO.  Praying for the last person you want to love this week? That's hard. It doesn't feel good, it looks messy, & it's a command.
     Both are commands from a very patient God.
     He knows you hate being outside of your comfort zone. But He longs to stretch it in different ways everyday. Maybe it's by singing a silly song in a room full of children, maybe it's forgiving someone to only become right with God - not to be seen by men. Maybe it's being content with the nothingness that only seems to be your everyday life.
     Remember what makes memories? Remember what leaves fingerprints on the Kingdom calendar? Being brave. Being, practically, fearless. Fearless of what other people think, as long as you're following Christ's command.
     You can do it. So GO out there & trust that nothing is wasted & sometimes, every tiny thing you do (like staying up after midnight to study for a test that bores you to tears or changing that baby's diaper or grading that test) is leading up to a better tomorrow for all of us.
     Remember to be brave. Keep the good of your past experiences alive - you'll need them for this journey. You'll need to see how you've done it before, you can do it again, & how it made someone smile. Make new memories by ''being as you wish to seem''. Dive yourself into the crazy life He has made - just for you. Because life doesn't start tomorrow. You bring the good life into tomorrow by giving it your endurance today.
     So, maybe next year at this time, over tea & study notes & crickets, we'll see how something we did this year made next year better. How being content reminded us that eternal life with Christ starts now & we have His power within us.
    What's your first step? Ask Jesus how He wants you to be brave (sometimes just a silly word to disguise the act of being faithful) today.


P.S. Have you ever listened to Brave by Sara Bareilles? Today would be a great day to do that, too.

For more posts filing under 'coffee for your heart' click here: Holly Gerth's Encouraging Blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

renewed honesty

This is a little something I wrote in my journal on September 29th. My writing is transforming as every week passes & life throws many different plot twists at every turn. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Read on:

   Ernest Hemingway wrote - I'm not sure when - to "write hard & clear about what hurts."
I don't think I've done this. I talk a lot of brokenness & vulnerability, because I love the idea of being real. I love the idea of being honest in every interaction. 
   But, in many ways, I've failed you for covering up. It's not that I've been hiding my passion from you in my writing - I've just been too scared to write it out myself. 

   I'm reading a novel - Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. Long story short, Sam has been hurt deeply through her life in the foster care system. She is an orphan hiding in her books, not being honest with herself. Her strict professor, Johnson, finally tells her that she has no voice. He wants to see the real her - not just facts or statistics. To him, her writing was good, but it sounded like one of her grocery lists (no conviction).

   So, as if the strict professor was speaking to me, I've realized that I talk ABOUT these things - & sometimes I write about heavy topics that put me into an very scary-introvert place. But not often enough do I pour myself into my work. Not often enough am I honest enough with myself to even be able to. 

   Writing isn't all fancy words & enchanting fonts - what makes writing fancy & enchanting is the passionate heart behind it. 

   I'm going to commit myself to honesty. Honesty to my writing, to myself. 

   My journals will be some the same - but newer ones will be in the format of a letter to the dear pages  - or as a prayer to The Lord. Keeping better track of the life He's given me. Blogs will be a deeper challenge and my 'binder articles' will be see through. My forming of my books will be changed. 

   I'm not sure what this all looks like yet. I just know I have to begin. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

home is where i'm with you

   I consider Kansas home - most days. ;)

   However, to all my friends that have grew up here their whole life - and watched basically everyone else around them grow up - I'm still a newbie. After all, it's only been four years since I detested the idea of living out here where I was related to everyone, but didn't know anyone else. I'm still new to all of the connections and old stories that can only be truly experienced as you live life alongside the people in your community. 

   Seven years ago, I had no idea that I would know any other state but Iowa as home. I'm glad I was wrong. 
   Five years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to make Iowa my home once again (in a different area, though) and get the heck out of Mississippi. I'm glad I was wrong. 

   Four years ago, I just wanted to move back to southern Iowa where all of my best friends were - where the bulk of my history was. Again, I'm glad I was wrong. 
   In Iowa, if I was being introduced to someone new, they would probably know my brothers. Here, in Kansas, most people don't even know that I have a brother. (I have two wonderful, handsome brothers, for anyone out there that didn't know.) 

   Today, I realize that every single place I've been - let alone the places I've lived - has built the roots that I call home. 

   Did you catch that last part? Where friendships flourish. 

   Now, recently, especially while I was in Ecuador this summer - I realized that I've missed out on a lot of some of my best friends' childhood. I wasn't around to see their first most embarassing moment in second grade or to walk alongside them through the awkward middle school years. It's true - I did miss out on a lot. 

   But there's something that I have that this community probably doesn't.

   On Saturday, my youngest brother got married. I know, I know. It's a beautiful thing, but it's still hard to wrap my mind around. That event is for more pictures on another blog for another time. :) 
    But over my long weekend...
    I got to tell some stories about growing up alongside people that were there.
    I got to hug necks that knew me before I could speak. 
    I got to catch up with a few of my brother's best buddies in high school that I was probably around more than any of the kids my age. Guys that were my second family and protective big brothers.

   It gave me a chance, for the first time in a long time, to appreciate my younger years and to not feel sad the next time that a story is shared around the youth group dinner table that I wasn't around to witness - because, in Iowa and Mississippi, I could sit around and tell story after story about the events that made me who I am. About the people that have made me who I am. There's a whole other world that I take part in when I leave the Kansas state line. People that my Kansas friends may never meet and stories they may never understand. 

  Stories about learning how to count with packets of jam at the Gas N' Grill and Saturday trips to the Dutchman's store. 
  Stories about riding bikes around our tiny town of two hundred. 
  Stories about wrestling tournament road trips with a van full of loud, teenage boys. 
  Stories about the kudzu of the south and singing pretend concert for hundreds every weekend with my best friend.  
  Stories about five feet of snow and The Lord bringing us out of a pit of dark loneliness. 

   The list goes on. 

   What's my conclusion? (because like any good Geometry problem, I need to sum it up for you.)

   Home isn't about a specific place. Home - for me - is where I can take my shoes off, feel safe, and at my friend's house where I know exactly where everything is in the kitchen. Home is in the familiar laughs of old friends and in picking up right where you left off. Home may be Kansas right now - because it's for such a time as this. Kansas may be where I hang my hat for years to come and I hope so very much that that is the case - but home is never just one place. 


   Home is a compilation of stories and people the made you who you are today. The good, the bad, and the possibly (most likely) very ugly. A town is where you run errands and lay your head - a home is where you grow and build the best relationships...and if we're in Christ, our future home destroys our wildest imagination. 

   So here's to you: 

  The people that have upheld your promise during my dedication (or as a part of the different church family's I've been in) to point me to Christ. 

  The people that have watched me grow up, given me grace, and loved my unconditionally. 

  The people that we still have relationships with, no matter the distance. 

  The people that will continue to give me grace as I stumble down this scary road of high school and onto college. 

  The people that truly care about me and portray that in huge or small ways. 

  The people that make anywhere I go - Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, the good ol' south, Colorado, Ecuador, or Uganda - HOME.

  I will cherish our memories and I anticipate thousands of stories He will write for us in the future. 

   In the meantime, I'll just keep writing my address in pencil. 

Peace out my friends,

More home roots blog inspiration credits go to "Take Me There" by Rascal Flatts (my all time favorite road trip band to play over and over back in the day). Check it out! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

whoop whoop! #TGIT

Time for a list of randomness, friends. (for those of you that don't know, if the title includes 'whoop whoop' in it, there will be lots of sarcasm & life inspiration from Pinterest. It usually means that it's the weekend.) Let's jump in! 

1. MAROON FIVE HAS A NEW ALBUM: V. This is number one for a reason. The first few days that I discovered it, I listened to it at least three times through a day. Now I've almost limited myself to once through a day. Grin. (Unkiss Me tears my heart to shreds on a daily basis. So good.) 

2. Fall is upon us. For more reasons than one, it's become official but our youth group resumed Life Groups a few weeks ago and it finally feels like 'normal Autumn'. 

3. Hence the hashtag #TGIT: Grey's started again tonight. It's prettyyyyy exciting. I would use more exclamation points, but I'm getting tired & it's almost Friday. 

4. As you know, my coffee lovin' game is strong. However, at the end of a long day, I've found that a nice cup of apple cinnamon tea or peppermint tea from London is just what I need (with honey, of course). Tonight, as I was getting some tea out of the cupboard I saw this: 

   Next to my London Tea Company container that uses the word 'whilst' properly in a sentence (because England is just that cool), these companies are winning at life. 

5. Have you heard the new Taylor Swift song? Shake It Off. Don't watch the music video and save yourself from that waste of time. However, I still love her & find it extremely catchy. Here I am - entirely exhausted & ready to go back to my hotel room - singing it at my brother's wedding last week. 

   I'm glad I can laugh at myself. ;) 

6. I change my homescreen and lockscreen probably once a week or once every few months, depending on the people that I place in them. Currently, Rapunzel's room (from Tangled) is my lock screen...

...& this beautiful morning captured with one of my very favorite girlfriends while I was in Uganda is my home screen: 

   They've already beat the one week point. Just sayin'. 

7. I miss this view. It's been so long since I went to go sit at Java Junkies (our coffee shop downtown I'm usually always at) & do nothing but write/read I was still drinking cold drinks. 

8. On September 8 we reached the one year mark of the Michael Buble concert Mom & I attended last year. I can't wait to go back. I love that guy & his beautiful show. 

9. Due to my freshman - sophomore year, weight loss, and transformation pictures in Uganda, I've been 'framing' lots of them. Here are a few: 

Seventeen pounds shed from the first photo to the second. I can't wait to see more of my weight loss transformations a few more months down the road! 

Top: My first airplane ride (since I was a baby) in 2011 on the way to Uganda. 
Bottom: My seventh flight of summer 2014 on the way to Uganda the second time. 
(Co-starring Momma V, of course!) 

Standing in front of Lake Victoria with Momma V in 2011 & again in 2014. Time flies (but you already knew that). 

Let's not talk about the fact that I'm wearing the same skirt, okay?

With my girlfriend AuD four years ago and present day - back before either of us could drive and now, when she drives me to MHK for a day of sanity on a regular basis. Four years from now she'll be a junior in college.

10. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes... (ahem, always) it's good to be able to laugh at yourself. Thanks to Pinterest, I've found a chuckle or two out of this:

*insert crying laughing faces here* 

   Overall, I'm loving my new autumn routine. It's good to have structure again and resume to the regular activities of life. I can barely fathom that next week will be October. Make sure you slow down & enjoy the little things: look up at the stars, read inspiring labels, spark up a fun conversation with your barista, buy someone a pumpkin spice latte (preferably me), COUNT GIFTS, write stories (if that's your thing), enjoy Netflix on lonely nights, check out that book at the library you haven't yet made time for, send someone a handwritten letter, hug a friend, & make lists late at night when you need to relax & reorganize your thoughts... Breathe. 

   Because, after all, "That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet." -Emily Dickinson

 Until next time's list of happy randomness...

 Your Truly, 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

between two beauties

It's the weekend, folks. Even though I have not personally started school yet (please hold back your not-happy-about-it snarls), I already feel more excited when it's the weekend. It's the tiny hint of freedom in the air. The hint of freedom that increases in May & decreases in August when the beloved back-to-school shopping begins (new pens!). 

My weekend. 

This afternoon, I celebrated my zero motivation with a few chapters of my book before actually mustering some random motivation to go make homemade brownies. 

For some of you, that doesn't sound thrilling. Or worthy of mentioning. 

But trust me - if Emilee Clemons made something homemade and it came out the other end not only edible but delicious, it's worth mentioning. 

I swung around from cupboard to cupboard, measuring cup to measuring cup, until my nutella brownies were complete. I grabbed some coffee ice cream, some tea from London, and I was on my way to a friend's house for the evening! I would show you a picture of all that happiness, but I decided that at least at their house for a few hours I would not use any technology that I wouldn't have used before I was eight. It was a nice breath of fresh air. 

The evening was over all too quickly, but we got to sing Taylor Swift on the way home at the top of our lungs. Because that's how we roll. 

Summer is dwindling and I can feel it. 

The bittersweetness of friends already being swamped in homework, of friends going to college, of all the precious adventures of this summer being tucked away under the definition of Summer 2014. 

The bittersweetness of so many new beginnings that a new season, every season, brings. 

Tomorrow I'm going to my own church for the first time in months. In reality, it's been three weeks. But it feels like so much longer than that. Not only has so much abundant life passed in that frame of time, but because both times I've been at church recently, it's been a blur of loving being home & longing for the many different church atmospheres I've gotten to be a part of this summer. It's been up on stage sitting next to the people that I've been on so many adventures with wanting to both laugh & cry because it's over.

Tonight my heart is heavy for the many people I love that live so very far away. I love being home. I'm excited to be back, but my heart is so torn. Between loving discovering my new routine & wishing the routine of my summer - continent hopping - would never have ended. Of course, to an extent, my heart is always longing to be with so many of them, but tonight it hurts in a unique way. I can hear the distinctive laugh of my Ecuadorian friends & I can see the eyebrow raise that transcends any language barrier in Uganda. Written on my heart forever are the memories of driving through the cities of Guayaquil and Entebbe hours after the sun set, the scent of smoke in the air. 

I can never leave these memories at home. 

It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!” —Philippians 1:7+8, THE MSG 

From now on when I hear 'Open The Eyes Of My Heart', it won't just be a good worship song. It will rush me back to a bonfire in the middle of a humid week at the equator. It will rush me back to sitting in the middle of thirty plus African kiddos worshipping with no drum or guitar, just loud honest voices echoing off the side of the classroom walls. The next time I use a glue stick, I'll remember leading crafts in the chaos of a VBS led by 12-15 people with 110 village children. Every time I see a riding lawn mower, I'll think of that time I slashed grass with a machete in the Pearl of Africa. Next time I cut up vegetables, I'll remember doing it with all those little ones by my side, preparing their one o' clock meal, dropping scraps in the dust below. 

The bittersweet part is that I don't know the next time I will be among all the people I love all over the world. 

When we said goodbye to our wonderful hosts in Ecuador, a few of us were beginning to cry. The aged, godly woman looked at the closest translator & said, "We'll miss you, but," putting her hand over her heart, talking through her misty eyes, "we always have you in our hearts."

The best part is, if they are in our hearts, they never truly leave no matter how many miles away they live.

I'm not sure what's next - other than school and my schedule for the next four weekends. Life beyond that point is vague. Misty. 

There's a blank slate that comes with autumn approaching. 

A blank slate that I need, both physically, emotionally, & spiritually.

In honor of needing a blank slate, I took all the decorations on my wall down a few days ago. Both figuratively and theoretically, I'm waiting to see what God paints. There's beauty in not knowing exactly what's next. There's beauty in being scared & holding tighter to Him in confusion. There's beauty in interceding for the people you long to be with; a longing that cannot be explained. 

There's two things for sure that are already up on that wall, the rest still empty - Ecuador & Uganda reminders. 

Because no matter what happens during this next year, what happened in Ecuador & Uganda really did happen. What The Lord showed us there was something He showed us when He had our undivided attention. The stories He wrote will not be erased. We're not going to let the enemy kill, steal, or destroy those experiences or any of the vibrant shades of their beauty. 

Because no matter what happens, Summer 2014 will be marked by pulling out that Passport, late night Taylor Swift jam sessions on the way home from a friends, the books I've read, those healing two weeks of prescribed nothing, worshiping so close to the equator, facing my deadliest fear - flying - a total of twelve times, learning so many new skills, shopping for skirts, running through banana plantations, hiking through the Ugandan bush, reuniting with so many old friends, God blessing with so many new budding relationships. 

These stories? They're mine, given generously from the heart of God. 

It's my joy to share them, to relive them. 

I can't wait for Him to write the next chapter. 

Until next time... 

P.S. Along with a few blank slates, Autumn could come sweeping in with red leaves & pumpkin lattes & cardigan weather any time now. Just sayin'. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

a different kind of #wcw

I hate Woman Crush Wednesday (further known as #WCW). 

Probably always will (in other words, until I am somebody's). 

For those of you blessed enough to not know what #WCW means, it is a social media trend - girls and guys around the country on a weekly basis post a picture of a woman in their life & plug some endearing comment at the end. It's been abused into posting silly SnapChats of one another (which I see the humor in. Bahaha.). 

I'm not going to change the face of social media. Just like I can't help the fact that I'm miserable on Valentine's Day. Some things will just remain the same for many years. 😉 However, I can shed some light on the subject. It's okay to be your own 'Woman Crush Wednesday'... but remember. Whether you've been one (repeatedly) or are in the same boat with me, every title you have on earth is a mere nothing. 

More than what Taylor Swift is implying in her last music video, more than the pit Miley Cyrus is leading so many people into, more than the condescending words of a selfish boy. 

You are even more than all their compliments. You are more than the world's flattery. (Believe it or not, Emilee Clemons. #preachingtomyselfhere). 

You're a Peculiar Treasure. 
This is eternal stuff.

Remember this one I shared awhile ago? It's worth sharing again & again.

Thank-you, Ann Voskamp, for stepping on our toes once again. 

When you were seven & the world had not entirely crept into your whole outlook on yourself yet. You were a princess, an astronaut, a nurse, a mommy, a world changer. You were all of this because you had the freedom of using your imagination. You were all this because you didn't care what people thought of your crazy dreams. 

Speaking of which, just in case no one has told you lately... 


Last, but surely not least:

It's a daily struggle choosing truth over insecurity. Forget daily, it's a minute by minute struggle, because your outlook on yourself can change in one scroll of your finger these days. Jesus sees Instagram, but, beloved, that's not all He sees. 

I know that you know He sees your heart. 

Most of you have heard that you're beautiful. You just haven't believed it first. Or, you've believed it because you had time to swipe mascara on this morning, not because He told you so. 

...& I know that when you're lonely, you don't care what your heart looks like. Right now you may be wanting to yell this at me right through the screens that separate us:

Just plain & simple pretty. If I told you that you were, you wouldn't believe me. 

I know that because I can't handle those compliments either. I don't know what to say...because I don't understand how someone could think that I was pretty. Or, how they could have the courage to tell me so. (Please don't sympathize for me. I know what you want to say. I've been told. I'm not writing this post for a #wcw. I'm writing it for all the girls that feel the pressure of being someone's #wcw everyday.)

Just like the typical orphan's heart - we're inclined to choose other's words over our Father's as a temporary fill. Because listening to our Father would make us tear down our wall of comfort & hiding that we place in our relationships. We choose what seems easier at the time on our hearts over getting to know our Father in a vulnerable atmosphere. 

It's not that I haven't heard that I'm beautiful. It's not that I don't tell myself that I am on a rare occasion. It's that before I hear from any outside sources, I need to be secure in my Father before I seek temporary (even if often necessary) help. 

In some shape or form, you & I have orphan hearts. Orphan hearts that cringe at #wcw's & every other form of masked betrayal. Orphan hearts that fear two things most (1) being lonely (abandoned) & (2) being fully known. 

I'm right here with you. Searching for security & feeling an un-justified shame when I don't feel beautiful as His daughter. (There is NO condemnation for those who are in Jesus.) 

But let's face the ugly truth.

Most of the time, we feel ugly. Or undesirable. Or disrespected. Or unworthy. 

I don't know how to fix that (He does), but I can tell you that you are not ugly. 

You are beautiful. 

We are beautiful. 

...because through Jesus, God no longer sees our sin. He sees our redeemed beauty. The born again church being made new. 

Here's to figuring that all out - believing it - together. 

To top off our evening together, I'm going to do something else I'm not comfortable with (like this whole blog post). I'm going to post a few pictures that I feel beautiful in. If you are inspired, I dare you to do the same on your little corner of social media! 

Let's raise our girls up in a generation of women seeking the truth about themselves from Jesus & not from another single soul. 

(In case you hadn't noticed, I feel the most beautiful with my beloved friends in Africa.) 

 “So that's me. Now somebody else please go.” —Pitch Perfect

–Beloved Of Christ, Emilee