Wednesday, March 26, 2014

are you afraid of Jesus?

i work in a coffee shop, and every saturday night we have a large group of people that come in to hang out together for hours. 

i was minding my own business, wiping down the bar for the 529th time. and then something caught my attention. 

i heard in a small voice from one of the kids in the group asking an older gentleman- 

"are you afraid of Jesus?" 

my first thought was, 'what a ridiculous question, how could you be afraid of Jesus?' 

but as i thought about it more, and more, and more, i realized that this ten year old kid was asking a really valuable, heavy, soul searching question. 

and it got me thinking about the times i have been afraid of Jesus. 

and why i chose to follow Jesus. 

even when i was afraid of Him. 

there have been moments throughout my life where i have thought, 

"is this for real? what if none of this is real? what if this whole God and Jesus thing is just a story? what if i'm wrong? what if what i've spent my entire life knowing, isn't really reality? what if i'm living in a fairy tale? what if He isn't really there? maybe we're just all crazy." 

but each time i've let my mind wander into an alternative reality, i am brought back by this one thought, and every time come to the same conclusion. 

if none of this is real, then life is meaningless. 

if Jesus isn't real, if the God i have walked with for the past 8 years isn't real, if life after this isn't real- then what is life? 

life without Jesus is nothing. 

He is the very purpose in all of creation. 

He is the hope of every heart. 

He is the heartbeat. 

because if not then what are we even doing here? 

i wouldn't want to be alive if it weren't for the love, presence, hope and life of Jesus inside of me. 

and i've walked through seasons with my back towards Him, and death consumed my heart. 

in those seasons and every moment i've let doubt wander into my mind, i was afraid of Jesus. 

i was afraid of surrender. 

because Jesus isn't a safe God. 

He's dangerous. 

so surely following Jesus has to be dangerous. 

real, all-in Christianity, is not safe. 

surrender is not safe. 

if requires you to give up your will. 

your dreams. 

your passions. 

your fears. 

your inspirations. 

your inadequacies. 

your failures. 

your successes. 

your crowns. 

your ideas. 

your possessions. 

your rights. 

your l i f e. 

surrender demands everything. 

surrender asks you to willingly become a servant. 

a slave. 

death to everything you've ever known in exchange for the life of Jesus. 

its not an easy death. 

its not comfortable. 

its not safe.

but this death brings life abundant. 

i could choose the safe route. 

a well paying nine to five desk job, a husband and three kids, a mini van, and a house with a white picket fence. 

the "American dream".  

but i don't want the American dream. 

i want God's dreams. 

and that requires going beyond the limits of "safe". 

because if you ever truly want to go into the depths of all of God's heart, presence, love, and the "plans I have for you" in Jeremiah 29:11- 

safe isn't an option. 

i had to come to a moment of recognizing that life could no longer be safe. 

i wanted surrender. 

i wanted to know the plans God has for me. 

i wanted to know Him. 

i wanted something and someone greater than anything i could ever imagine. 

and i found Him. 

he is Jesus. 

i was afraid of Jesus. 

i was afraid of the fire in His eyes. 

i was afraid to let His love cover the shameful parts of my story and life. 

i was afraid to give up my comfortable prison cell of sin. 

i was afraid to give up the identity i found in my weaknesses and failures. 

i was afraid to be bold and believe what He said about me. 

i was afraid that i wouldn't be good enough for Him. 

i was afraid i would fail Him. 

i knew i couldn't love Him the way He deserves. 

i was afraid to give Him control of my life. 

i knew that once i did, i couldn't rely on my own strength because His plans go beyond my ability. 

and i liked being able to control my life and what happened next. 

He seemed dangerous. 

following Him would cost everything. 

but there was no other option. 

i came to the all inclusive decision and truth that Jesus is the only Truth. 

He is the only way to life. 

He is the meaning of life. 

i fell in love with Him. 

and following Him might be dangerous, but there was no other choice. 

dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. 

and in surrender, in submitting my heart to the dangerous path and all consuming God, there was freedom unspeakable. 

and freedom for every day. 

and a love, a hope, a joy, a Savior who makes every day worth living. 

sometime i think what my life would look like if i had chosen the easy route. 

if i hadn't signed up to have a target on my back that says "kill" to the enemy. 

if i had not listened and responded to the constant beckoning of my King. 

and i don't want it. 

any of it. 

safe is not the path we are called to. 

we are called into dangerous living. 

dangerous faith. 

dangerous joy. 

dangerous hope. 

dangerous to the kingdom of darkness

and wrecking every heart that might surrender to the Lion of Judah. 

cause if you want to walk with a Lion, you have to be willing to risk what others are not willing to risk. 

so let me ask you the same question that this ten year old boy unknowingly challenged my heart with. 

[ are you afraid of Jesus? ]

and what is it that you are afraid of?

are you willing to exchange your fear or hesitations for a life that cannot be contained or imagined? 

don't be afraid. 

there is freedom in surrender. 

and the dangerous path might not be easy, but you regret one moment of it. 

the goal of life is not to arrive at death safely. 

the goal of life is to L I V E


"Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” - C.S Lewis 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

i choose the flames

i was labeled rebellious when i got my tattoo.

people asked me why i would want something on my body that i can never get rid of.

so i told them the stories.

"you walk with me through f i r e."





[ you hold my every moment.

      you calm my raging seas.

            you walk with me through fire.

                  and heal all my disease.

                        i trust in you.

                             i believe you're my healer.

                                  i believe you are all i need.

                                       i believe you're my portion.

                                           i believe you're more than enough for me.

                                                Jesus you're all i need.
               
                 nothing is impossible for you.
                 
                 you hold my world in your hands. ]


this is one of the few songs that has been a life anthem.

because in every moment, He has been there.

since the beginning.

since before i was born.

when my dad said "no more kids". and God said "one more". and planted me in my mother's womb...He was there.

when my dad left my family for another woman without saying goodbye, He was there.

when i was lonely...He was there.

when i became addicted to prescription drugs...He was there.

when i walked away from Him and cursed His name...He was still there.

when i was living in depression...He was there.

when my dad got cancer and there was no compassion in my heart...He was there.

when my dad apologized and asked for forgiveness and restoration happened...He was there.

when my dad died, and my heart broke...He was there.

when an old friend tried to kill herself...He was there.

when i ran to a razor blade for comfort...He was there.

when i knelt in front of a toilet and forced myself to throw up for the 5,000th time...He was there.

when i tried to take my own life for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd time...He was there.

when people walked out on me....He walked with me.

when immature boys broke my innocent heart...He was there.

when my best friend was killed in a freak accident...He was there.

when i couldn't take another step....He walked with me.

when friendships ended and i felt alone...He was there.

when i left everyone i loved behind to follow His call...He walked with me.

with every accusation and evil word that has been spoken over me...He was with me, speaking life.

when i was told it would be difficult, maybe impossible for me to get pregnant...He was there.

in every moment...He has walked with me.

He has never left me. and He never will.

You walk with me through fire.

you never really understand the power of fire until you see it firsthand.

two summers in a row, i watched it ravage and consume different parts of my city and mountains.

it leaves nothing in its wake.

it mars everything it touches, and leaves only ashes for evidence.

i have walked through the fires of life.

fires that tried to kill, steal and destroy.

and He was there.

isaiah 43:1-2

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."

this is a PROMISE from the most high God. and He does not break promises.

but fire isn't all bad.

fire purifies.

fire burns away the parts of us that get in the way of being fully His.

He has walked with me through the fires of life, but He has also walked with me through His all consuming fire.

He has burned away impurities and flaws that made me look more like me and less like Him.

just as a diamond starts out as an ugly rock, and as it goes through the fire it is refined, purified and fashioned into something beautiful that will last forever.

the Lord has walked me through His fire, and burned away the ugly parts. and He is fashioning me into something beautiful that will last forever.

and His fire is the best kind. the kind that burns and leaves something better in its wake.

it doesn't take away without giving something in return.

as i surrender my life to the flames, He gives me His life in return.

something so much more valuable and beautiful than anything i could ever possess.

but W H Y? why can't i know all this without putting it on my body in permenant form?

so i can N E V E R forget.

this is my Ebenezer stone.

i am making a memorial, a marker to the Lord's faithfulness and all that He has done in my life.

and who He has been. 

that i may never forget what He has done for me.

how He has loved me.

how He has poured His grace upon me.

how He has walked with me.

how He has changed me.

that i may forever tell the stories and shine a spotlight for His fame.

cause if its on my body in permenant fashion, i can never leave it on the side of the road. i can never forget. even if i get scared. even when it is hard to walk with Him. even when my flesh wants to go the other way. even when i have to make sacrifice and willingly choose the flames. i cannot walk away.

and i don't want anything but to walk with Him through all of life's seasons.

i choose the flames.

here i raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help i've come.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

the year of adventure.

i'm sitting here in my favorite hoodie, drinking an orange mimosa, and listening to Ben Rector on Pandora. because let's be honest, moments like these are sometimes good for the soul.

i am reflecting back on the year that was 2013. an unbelievable, beautiful adventure and story.

let me share some of the defining moments.

January.

21 days of prayer and fasting.

always a highlight of the year, but this year changed my heart and life forever.

i had a revelation of sorts that brought me to a new level of closeness with Jesus.

i noticed a lot of favortism and a "serve to be seen" mentality floating around my school. and i decided that i wanted nothing to do with it. anymore. cause i had fallen for that my first three semesters. but this one would be different.

i realized that if i want to have influence and a voice in ministry one day, or even now- if i don't have the character, integrity and relationship with the Lord to sustain it, it will be meaningless. i had gotten busy and forgotten the One that it was all for and about.

so i handed back leadership opportunities that i had been given. that i took on only to please people over me so that i could be seen and get more attention and opportunities. i cleared my plate of all excess. i did what i was given as requirements, with excellence, but nothing more. nothing that in the end, wouldn't bring me closer to my goal of knowing Jesus more.

i fell in love with the Word of God again. i sat for hour and hours, just soaking in worship. i listened to every message i could get my hands on.

i fell in love with Jesus again.

He gave me Isaiah 60 as my chapter for 2013. and i didn't understand why for the longest time. but after praying, reading it a hundred times over, and praying some more- He gave me the why.

He spoke to me clearer than day. "Kellen is the one redefining men in your family, and you are the one redefining women in your family."

woa. talk about a heavy call.

He continued to tell me that all of the things that have cursed our family, have brought destruction, have broken our family apart- are ending with my family and my brother's family.

no more divorce. no more alcoholism. no more addiction. no more lack of communication. no more strife. no more malice and speaking negatively of one another. its over.

"arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."

then.

it snowed. in Alabama.

and by snow i mean it flurried for about 20 minutes, enough to make the roads wet, and then stopped and it was sunny and beautiful again. nevertheless, it provided for a good amount of entertainment seeing all my Southern loves freaking out over a tiny amount of "snow".

my car decided she had had enough. and i had to sell her. and i am unfortunately still carless.

i chopped all of my hair off (creds to my beautiful spiritual momma Jackie for that)...and we all know that whenever a woman cuts all her hair off, change is on its way. big change.

February.

dream team parties. reassured my belief that my brother is one of the funniest people on the face of the planet.

Motion Night for the win. but that was a highlight of every month. as much as teenagers drive me nuts, there's nothing like seeing thousands of them loving on Jesus together.

March.

Atlanta Dream Center mission trip.

i witnessed things that i would have never thought i would see in my own country.

i stared darkness, death, and fear in the face.

i stayed in the sketchiest hotel in America. (blood on the walls, mold in the showers, the place was used as a brothel.)

and i met a beautiful young girl. on the streets. who happened to be a prostitute. (but that doesn't matter, that isn't definitive of her worth or the amount of love and respect she deserves). i had the honor of giving her a rose and telling her that she is loved and beautiful. of praying with her. of encountering a dear soul, a beloved daughter of the most high God- in need of love and hope. her face is still, and forever etched in my mind and heart. i will never forget her. there is nobody who is beyond or unworthy of the love of Jesus. even prostitutes. let us never dishonor one of God's kids.

and because of her, my passion to rescue girls from human trafficking will never die. i will spend my life fighting on their behalf, as much as i possibly can.

i started doing high school ministry at the Birmingham Dream Center. smack dab in the middle of hardcore ghetto. and i have never loved a group of student more than i loved my Woodlawn kids.

Motion Night.

Carl Lentz from Hillsong New York came to be with us and preached one of the best messages I have ever heard. What an honor it was to be a part of one of the most successful youth ministries in the nation.

in March i, along with the rest of my class, was starting to freak out about what i was going to do after graduation. i figured i would be doing an internship, getting placed at a church, and spending at least another year at Highlands. how wrong i was.

i wrote in my journal during chapel on March 19-

focus on Jesus. lock eyes with Him. He is clearing my path. Everything will come into place when I am focused on Him. Don't worry about the future. Seek Him TODAY. He's holding my hand, going before me, and walking beside me. It is all going to work out. trust.

Holly Wagner and Wendy Treat tweeted me. in the same day. i know it sounds petty to be so excited about that....but let's be real. they're like "christian celebrities" for girls in ministry training. ha. but really.

Easter at Highlands. 7 services as lead teacher in the two year old room. need i say more?

but 4,998 people met Jesus for the first time that weekend. and i got to be a part of that? there are no words.

APRIL.

oh, April.

i got published on Good Women Project. a piece about cutting. because that's part of my story. it was an honor to share it with so many sisters, daughters and mothers.

i started driving the Woodlawn bus for Motion Night. and i didn't kill anyone. or hit any lamp posts.

Matt Redman led worship at Motion Night. Beth Redman preached. you have no idea how refreshing it was to see a woman preaching from that stage. so very beautiful.

i ran my second half marathon. bragging rights with that 13.1 sticker.

ARC CONFERENCE.

ARC CONFERENCE.

ARC CONFERENCE.

really, though. one of the most incredible weeks of my life.

i got to be around and serve some of the most influential leaders in the ministry world. it was one of the highest honors i have ever had.

people like Brian Houston. Christine Caine. Chris Hodges. Willie George. Rick Bezet. Phillip and Holly Wagner. John and Lisa Bevere. and SO many more. countless of beautiful church planters, sacrificing so much to see their God sized dream come to life.

i got to meet and hug Holly Wagner. i have looked up to her for so long, and it was so incredible to finally meet her.

Christine Caine preached the best message i have ever heard in my life. something she said will stay with me forever. "it is better to be marked by God than marketed by man." i wasn't one of the "chosen ones" at my school, and i let it frustrate me to no end. but when she said that...i knew. i have the mark and anointing of God on my life. and no person can take that away.

and i met a woman and had a conversation that would change the course of my entire life.

i was sitting in the ARC Women app session with a pastor's wife from Highlands, and i saw this woman walk into the tent. she immediately caught my attention. she radiated something incredible, and inside of my spirit i knew i had to talk to her. i couldn't shake that "I HAVE TO KNOW YOU" feeling. but i didn't talk to her cause i didn't want her to think i was weird, and i didn't know what to say. ha. but every time i saw her over the week, the same thing would happen.

it was the last day of the conference. it had actually been over for a couple hours. and i was sitting with my dear friend Ashley, waiting for the intern tear down meeting to start. i said- "hey Ash, wanna hear a funny story? here's what happened....and its that lady right there!" (10 feet away). she looks at me and like only she can, says, "are you an idiot? you have to talk to her. go." we argued for 10 minutes. and finally i stood up and went.

i went up to her, and just started to let words flow. "hi. my name is Kasey Coldiron, i'm an intern at Church of the Highlands...and this might sound really weird, but i saw you the other day at the ARC womens app session, and something inside my spirit just kind of came alive and i felt like i was supposed to talk to you...so i'd love to hear about your ministry, and who you are, and what you do." and i was so relieved when she said "well let me just clear the air, its not awkward or weird, this is normal so let's talk!" we talked for about 20 minutes, into and through the intern tear down meeting. ha. she told me about how she and her husband started out as youth pastors in Texas, helped plant a church in Arizona, and had just 7 months prior launched their own church in Orange County, California. (inside, i kind of shut down, cause i though- california? never.) She asked me all kinds of questions- how i got to Highlands, what my ministry calling and vision was, what my story was, my heart for women's ministry...and if i felt like i was supposed to be planted in Birmingham. which i had no hesitation in saying no. she encouraged me and poured so much wisdom into my life in those 20 minutes, i can't explain the God connection that happened.

i told her i had no idea what i was doing with my life after graduation, which was in 4 weeks. and that it may have sounded crazy, but our pastors were always telling us to go after the who and not the what...and i felt like the Spirit connected me with her for a reason, and i would love to visit them and their church in California. she said absolutely, and made a very welcoming invitation for me to come anytime. we prayed with me, we parted ways, and my heart was going crazy.

i had a full time, full paid job offer at a church in Texas. but it just didn't feel right. no peace with it. then i met Pastor Meghan, and i felt this unexplainable passion that i could move to California the next day and work 3 jobs to support myself, just to serve under her leadership.

i talked to my spiritual authority. he said go. i asked God to provide a reasonable plane ticket. $170 and 5 weeks later, i was on a plane going to the land of my dreams. a place i had never been before..nor ever had a desire to visit before. ever.

a lot of my friends went on ministry trips to scope out jobs and churches, to see the possibilities. i knew this wasn't simply to scope out a church or city. it was a trip to confirm all the things i already knew in my spirit. i knew i would be moving there. i just had to make it official.

Pastor Carey and Meghan are some of the most phenomenal leaders i have ever met in my life. their vision is incredible. the church is beautiful. the people are authentic. the community is strong. the life there is real. God is on the move in Orange County, California. there is so much growth opportunity and potential.

there is no job. there are countless unknowns.

but there are leaders that i want to serve under and help see their vision come to life.

there is a dream. and i am following it.

i learned the meaning of faith and obedience and going, no matter the cost and even when it makes absolutely no sense to anyone around you. or even to you.

May.

i graduated Highlands College along with some of my best friends and the best people i have ever known.

what a journey those two years were. and moving to Alabama was probably the best decision i have ever made.

i found myself there. i discovered who i really am. my dreams, my passions, my gifts, my voice, my deepest secrets and fears, and everything that knits my soul together.

i found Jesus there. like. really found Him. i've  never experienced His presence or been deeper into the heart of God like i was able to be in so many moments.

i learned the definition of the word H A R D. it was one of the most difficult seasons of my life. i had to work hard, sleep less, be disciplined, do everything with excellence, and sacrifice so much to finish the journey.

but i learned the greatest lessons of my life. and met people who will stay with me forever. and i will N E V E R be the same.

i went as spent a week at the beach with some of my lovely bests to celebrate finishing strong.

and then i went to Califonia. but we've already discussed that beautiful adventure.

June.

i came home from that trip, full of vision and ready to take the steps and work towards going back for good.

i got my spiritual authority's blessing, the blessing of Pastor Carey and Meghan, and i had the peace of the Holy Spirit- the most important ingredient.

2 weeks later, i did something i never thought i would ever do again. i moved back to Colorado. so that i could work for a year and save money to move to California.

i donated and threw away half of my wardrobe and belongings, packed my world into about 8 bags, shipped some, took some on the plane with me- and left.

i had to say some of the hardest goodbyes i have ever had to say. people that marked my world with love, grace, laughter, acceptance, friendship, shared experiences, dreams, and simply brothers and sisters that i will carry in my heart for all of forever. they will always be friends. always.

my HC sisters threw me a beautiful going away party where we laughed, celebrated my finding my place and people, dreamed together, shared stories, and they blessed me with rich, encouraging, beautiful words and prayers.

i'm holding back tears simply writing this, thinking about that night and how hard it was to leave my people and the city i had learned and grew to call H O M E.

these people and Birmingham and Church of the Highlands marked me forever.

i got on a plane. in tears. and started the treck to my lifelong "home", that quite frankly, didn't feel much like home after two years of being gone.

July.

i got hired at Starbucks the same week i moved back. that alone has been an adventure in itself. i love love love my coworkers and the fun we share at work. as much as i want to be gone, i can't imagine what it will be like leaving them. we've had to transition managers, which has had its challenges, but we've stuck it out and we are like a small, dysfunctional family.

the past 6 months. (wow- has it really been that long???)...have been kind of a blur. no need to break it up month by month. ha.

i've worked. a lot. my life is Starbucks. and i must say, i have become a kick-ass barista. but really. it runs in the family. 2 of my sisters are baristas, and my sister is engaged to a manager of one of the stores in town.

my best friend of 7 years, Katie, got married. i cried as i stood by her side to watch her commit her life to her husband, Nic. but what they have is beautiful. and they are perfect for each other.

my sister got ENGAGED. she got some new jewelry for Christmas...and i got another big brother. i love Travis. he is a great guy, and i'm hoping nothing but the best for them and their lifelong adventure together.

i found a beautiful holy community to belong to with my college small group from a church i don't even go to. they're some of the most incredible people i've ever bene around. i always leave so challenged, full, and stirred to love Jesus and His Word more. i am so very thankful for my leaders and the beautiful sould that make up our rad group.

i'm a part time nanny for my two precious little men. they have my heart.

i got to go back home to Alabama and visit all of my favorites.

my heart was so full it could have exploded.

so many people i love so very much.

to be back at my church was so very lovely.

i got my first TATTOO while i was there.

i know. crazy, right?

nah. not too crazy. i've been thinking about getting it done for about 4 years, i just never had the balls to do it cause i was afraid of the pain. and it was probably the most painful thing i have ever done. but so very worth it. thanks to my baby sis Jorja for holding my hand. and forgiving me for biting her.

the idea that Christians don't and can't have tattoos is ridiculous. we don't live in that world anymore. so i let go of what my mother would think, and everyone else, and went all in.

and i will be getting more eventually.

i came back "home". and began to compare my two places. and i got sad. and tried to run away from my life here. and it didn't work. i'm stuck here, if you will. but then my small group leader helped me shift my perspective. and now i am embracing this season full on.

the past 6 months has been one of the most challenging, difficult seasons i have ever had to walk through. and by far the loneliest. i have never had moments where i felt so utterly alone and isolated, in my whole life. i am surrounded by people all the time, and yet, i have felt so alone. i've had countless "i can't do this" moments- and my moments i mean full on emotional breakdowns. i forgot about my relationship with Jesus. i was mad at Him for bringing me back here.

and then my spiritual momma, Jena, came to town. and she helped me to remember. i sat in her room at Glenn Eyrie until 1am. and poured my heart out. and shared everything i've felt and experienced the past 6 moths. word vomited all over the place. she was the first person who had cared enough to ask. so i told. she shared wisdom, encouraged me, and prayed with me.

she gave me her book that just came out. and day one of the discipleship guide called Love- caught my heart. God Is P R E S E N T. i thought He abandoned me. He has been here the whole time. and i forgot. He became so real to me again. i fell in love with Him again. all i wanted to do was spend time with Jesus. and read my Bible. and worship. and write again. my spitual life came back to life.

and 2013 has come to a close. as i look back at it- there are so many moments to remember. people i treasure. ups and downs. adventures. hurts. lessons. challenges. real, tangible life change.

defining moments.

the year i found my place, my people, and my purpose.

i discovered who my true, real friends are. and they will be people i hold onto and invest my life in spending with forever. no matter the distance between us. i lost friends. and gained new ones.

i found myself.

i found Jesus a million times over. He is so faithful.

i discovered what it means to be lonely. and what it means to have the sweet comfort and peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

it surpasses understanding because in order to have it you have to give up your right to understand.

and with no need to understand, but to simply trust. there in lies our peace.

though one of the hardest, i can say in confidence that 2013 was the best year of my life.

and i canot wait for the adventures that are waiting for me in 2014.