100 years

It was Kia May’s 100th year birthday party today. 14.5 years in human years. We celebrated with lots of dogs, treats, popsicles & tacos.

So much joy. So much excitement. So much love.

Had me thinking of the Father’s love for each one of us. He spends so much time meticulously creating us, and delights in creating us. How crazy.

I start to wonder how much of the time I limit God’s ability to be in a moment and only focus on how I’m feeling and how it serves me. So much of the time I neglect inviting God to the party of my life.

Kia May has been apart of my life since I was 8. Walking along through cross country moves, health injuries and countless hard days. She’s been a constant that I know will be there when I need to be comforted, to sit in the quietness or go on an early morning walk to clear my mind.

But as she gets older, and the questions of, “how much longer does she have,” and “will she make it to her next birthday” come to surface, it’s made me start to realize that I’m so quick to invite her into moments of my life, but so quick to shut God out.

He delights in you friend. He created YOU. The tears you cry, He feels them and the joy that radiates when you had an awesome day He feels as well. Read that all one more time. Let it soak in.

So amidst all the partying, for a dog who’s been steadfast amidst all the craziness of life that past 12 years, may this be a reminder that the Lord Himself wants to celebrate, to sit and to hold you through all the elements.

-Kyra Mariah

tie dye shirts & messy hair.

Life is a bit messy. Something I don’t like admitting or even letting my life become messy at all. Making sure the house is cleaned up and that my life is in order as much as possible. I view a dirty house as being irresponsible and lazy. Something I’m learning through being over-controlling, is that I’m not leaving much room for grace.

Over the past few months, it’s felt more like God has taken balloons filled with paint and splattered them all over my ‘white walls.’ The walls the I’ve spent so much time, stress, pressure and angst over keeping clean and perfect. He’s been showing me what areas of my life I’ve put too much pressure on and expected too much of others or myself.

The outward things like messy hair, unshaved legs, acne thriving and oversized colorful tie dye shirts have been my worst enemy the past few weeks. Quick to believe that because circumstances are sticky and difficult, job opportunities fell through the cracks and change is happening so quickly around right now, I am less of a person. So quick to be compliant and believe the lies of who I’m not. “Just because it’s been hard doesn’t mean that your not doing good. Doesn’t mean that your not good enough. Doesn’t mean God loves you any less. Doesn’t mean that people who love you look, at you differently and doesn’t mean that your a failure.” These were words my little sister, Anna, reminded me of, when my mind started to believe the lies that started creeping in.

I’ll be honest and admit that it’s not been easy beginning to see the good in the messy, acne thriving, legs unshaved, messy hair and oversized tie dye shirts that have filled up the past few weeks. Yet, it’s been important. Important to not always white-wash the circumstances that surround me.

God didn’t create this world to be black and white. Rather, to be messy and colorful. We’re all messy individuals who need God’s help cleaning up ourselves.

So to those who read this and relate to feeling like their walls have to be white, I challenge you to start painting in the colors, start seeing the messy as where life itself is full and plentiful.

You are loved and so treasured by our Heavenly King who loves painting with colors.

-Kyra Mariah

14th grade: ship in the waves

As I sit here watching the storm clouds roll in, I submit my last final for sophomore year of college and a wave of emotions washes over. It’s been a year of walking timidly, unsure for what’s next, and grieving such hardships for those close to me. It was a year full of grief, and am honestly still in the thick of it; yet the Lord provides. He pursues the runaways. This year was full of change, being stretched in many areas, seeing how true of a shelter God is for His ship-wrecked children and swimming into even deeper waters with the Lord.

I imagine each person being a ship in the waves. As a ship sails through the ocean called life, God uses waves to crash into the ship; stripping away the accessories, glamour, glitz, man-made idols, and false-identities that we so easily create or depend on to survive.

This year included a heavy fall semester of 22 credits, spring with 14 credits and so much more packed into the midst of it. I watched as both my boyfriend, Jon, older brother, Kelvyn, grandparents and mom handled health conditions. Kaden graduated High School, Wynter got married, and I found a group of girls who are sweethearts and pursue the Lord so faithfully, such an answer to prayer.

The storm clouds were a reminder that it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the current turmoil and darkness that’s engulfing this season of life; but when we can look past the darkness, the heaviness that this season holds, there is going to be such growth, colorfulness and refreshment after the storm.

It’s been a year that’s stretched me like Elastigirl from the Incredibles, made me see where my confidence was wrongly coming from and seeing that my worth is in Christ alone.

In the midst of hardships swirling around, I decided to have a physical change… so off went 11 inches of hair, briefly dyeing it hot pink and contemplating another ear piercing. I thought I was just trying for a fresh start, but was actually running away from being present to what the Lord was trying to teach me.

Thankfully no extra piercing occurred and the hair dye was only temporary… but it made me realize how much of the time it’s easier to swim to the shore, telling God I’m done with swimming in His unknown waters, then to brave the waters, and to trust that He’s swimming next to me.

I’ll be honest to admit that there have been moments through this past year I’ve wanted to jump ship and swim back to shore, telling God that the waves He’s having me swim through are too much, and I’m done with the uncertainty. Currently reading the Bible start to finish and I’m in Joshua right now. Crazy to see how much uncertainty occurs and yet, the Lord pursues.

It was in the chaos and grief of this past year, that the Lord pressed on my heart, a love for writing. So in all the craziness, I’ve decided to add on another year of undergrad to now double major in Exercise Science and Writing. No clue what this holds, but listening to God with this passion He’s given me.

This year felt like a swirling sea; and am learning that God loves me for the core of who I am. He strips away the false identities, the glitz and glam, for transformation and redemption to take place. Like a ship in a storm. He pursues all of us, even the runaways.

-Kyra Mariah

loving at a distance.

It’s in the unexpected distance, that we long for deeper connections. Something I’ve been thinking about, as we’re on week two of home-quarantine and I’m missing all of my people.

Last night started by my little brother, Kaden and dad showing up to my place unexpectedly asking to catch up, after weeks of them being gone overseas.

There’s a little piece of property behind the Penley’s home, called the Open Space. A place that I walk in the early Friday mornings with Mrs. Christy, and where I start/end my runs. It’s a place that brings so much joy and makes time with Jesus feel so intimate.

As we walked, you could hear the crisp dry grass crackle underneath our feet, listening to the excited birds chirp as the sunlight beamed upon us, before descending behind the mountains.

As the boys began to share of their recent travels to Kenya and Germany, a sense of longing for what’s to come and contentment wrapped together washed over.

The boys began to talk about cool surgeries, new projects to come at the Hospital, and to hear the excitement in both of my guys voices as they talked about their goals for the future.

Wishing I could just squeeze them and never let go, wishing I had traveled with them, and dreading Kaden about to graduate high school and move away.

But in this season, where it feels like fear, anxiety and worry loom overhead, like clouds on a sunny day, it has been hard to see the contentment in this season over the bitterness I have towards God.

It was in listening to Kaden talk, that I could see the restlessness in all of our hearts at this time of unknowingness and uncertainty.

My family is full of dreamer’s and gypsy’s. We find comfort in packing up, leaving town and dreaming past the sky’s limit. It’s something I’ve struggled with this over the years, seeing both sides to being so comfortable packing up, but also seeing the blessings that have come along the way. I’m seeing the goodness in belonging to a family of gypsy’s and dreamers; they don’t let disappointments cloud their sunny days, rather, seeing ways to still see the sun shining, even if it’s ever so faint behind the clouds.

While listening to the boys talk, I had a kairos (a moment where God’s trying to break in and teach you a lesson) that I don’t treasure the time I have with Jesus. I’m so quick to pick up my phone, or to find another distraction rather than to be present with Him. To sit in the presence with Jesus and with my brother and dad are transformational moments in life. Rather than trying to run and find something else to fill the space, to be content with the distance that separates us.

In this season, it can be so easy to point a finger at God and accuse Him of tormenting us, but by stepping back, we can see that God’s more than ever trying to reach out and pull us near; not punish, not torment, not scold us. Like a little child who runs to the arms of his parents after scraping his knees on the pavement, all God wants is to hold us tenderly, and heal our wounds.

So loving at a distance, simply seeing their handsome faces for a bit, full of elbow bumps, sunshine, heart talks, and waving goodbye, little moments with those who you love is truly treasurable.

Well, there are my thoughts late last night, seeing how God’s such a tender, personable God, and I’m so quick to pack up and run, ignoring Him through the lessons He’s trying to teach me. To sit, be present and be content in the slowness is what God’s teaching me right now, and though it’s hard to listen, it’s important.

Praying everyone stays safe and healthy out there. Have a great day!!
-Kyra Mariah

sunsets & surprises.

I was at a retreat last week where they described different seasons of life as:

  • Summer – freedom, long days, anticipation for what’s to come and fresh air.
  • Fall – transition, harvest (a collection of dead things) for what’s to come.
  • Winter – cold winds, accepting of yielding & trusting, and great clarity.
  • Spring – slowly at first, then colors come into the barren lands, beauty and light return to things that were once dead.

I’ve been in a winter this past semester; where the cold winds sting your cheeks, and you yearn for a warm fire nearby, yet all you see is a blizzard heading your way.IMG_5333 2

I wrapped up fall semester feeling drained, like a shell washed up on the beach, tossed and tumbled. The hope of transformation in areas of my life, completely dissolved.

This past weekend, my boyfriend, Jon, organized an early surprise birthday party, due to him having spinal surgery tomorrow (2/4); with all those that are so dear to my heart. It was an evening full of love, intentionality and being present with those who came.

As we drove unknowingly to the surprise party, God had painted the sky in neon colors, as tears filled my eyes, there was a kairos: a moment where God’s trying to teach you something through others, nature, or signs… a reminder that God brings life to things that were once dead. To things that once looked dull, He brings refreshment, like rain after a dry season.

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There was another kairos, another wink from God this week; my little sister, Anna, had had a hard day and texted me saying: “YOU PICK WHAT TYPE OF COOKIE 🙂 and we bake, listen to music and talk.” It was a reminder that there is an accumulation of death things, dullness and dried up roots in the hardships of seasons, AND there is also newness, beauty and transformation.

Through both the time with Anna and the surprise party, God was winking, reminding me that He created fellow gardeners to help tend to my own frost-bitten plants, helping till the soil and uproot what’s going on.

After a season full of feeling overwhelmed, stretched in many facets, family, dear friends, and myself going through trials week after week, I was washed up.

The seasons aren’t getting any easier, they’re actually staying the same. Long days and short nights. Cold winds, yet so much new life is surfacing. This past weekend was a reminder of the community He’s crafted around me, that as the pummeling waves hit, and boy will they hit; He’s the surfboard. Ready to carry us, and lead us through the current.

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So surprises and sunsets, two beautiful winks from God. That seasons bring healing, growth and life to things that were once dead.

So whatever season you’re going through, whatever area you maybe feel like has been frost-bitten, past any new life, my prayer is that God will meet you there, and walk with you through the storm, and through the healing that will follow.

-Kyra Mariah

rubik’s cube.

Life has felt like a Rubik’s cube over the past 3 months; being jumbled around, life’s colors being mixed up, while being used to a one colored routine. There were some big changes..

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from living at home, to a host family and roommate for the summer, now living with the Penley’s and Kia (my dog). Traveling from Washington, Georgia for a funeral, back to Washington for Wynter’s wedding, and Florida to visit grandparents. I added on 3 summer classes, nannied, plus a second year internship with the Children’s Ministry at IAC Church. It was a full summer.

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It wasn’t until a shower while visiting my grandparents, that God reminded me I haven’t been pressing into my 2019 word, “worth.” I chose this word, because I lost my identity last year. Who I was as a friend, sibling, and a daughter to God. I started this year reading a new book on “worth” each month, but when summer hit, my time spent in the Bible became less, rather, packing my schedule full.

I’m learning… we’ll always change, but our worth in Christ doesn’t change. God’s present and actively working in and through our lives. Mrs. Christy has said this a dozen times, but it wasn’t until this summer with my rubik’s cube constantly shifting to new patterns, that I understood what she was saying. Instead of trying to unscramble our cube’s were to take them to God and say, “whatever you want to do in this jumbled mess, would you keep my heart open to learning from it.”

While visiting my grandparents in South Florida, my Grandpapa ended up in the hospital. It’s been difficult seeing him decline and his memory slip as well, but it was a good reminder to press into God because He’s not changing anytime soon!!

We’ll change. That’s a fact. God doesn’t, and neither does our worth. That’s a bigger fact.

I thought I could go this summer without reading the Bible everyday, but it’s been a lesson that; we can’t know our worth in Him, when we walk away from reading and learning from Him.

There is something good to slowing down. I’ve run around, pushing in different areas, while not relying on God through it. Slowing down to only have puzzle building as the agenda for a day is a weird feeling, but it’s a good reminder, that peace can be found in the emptiness.

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A big change this summer was saying goodbye to my family of 6 boys. The Pound’s family came to me out of the blue. A family of five boys, with a single dad in the Air Force, it was never a dull moment. Being their nanny, days were filled with football games, swim meets, bedtime stories, rap battles, bubble baths and cookie decorating. These boys taught me what loving through difficult situations is like, but more importantly, they taught me what true dependence on Christ is. They have a piece of my heart, and as they transition to St. Louis with new orders, praying it’ll be a smooth shift.

I think change hurts so bad.. because we become so accustomed to a consistent routine, same colored life, that when God shifts it up, we either run to Him or runaway. But if we stay, and are open to seeing what He’s trying to teach us, we begin to see new growth, and our worth in Him.

Through all this change one song that’s really helped is:  The Future: Tenth Avenue North It’s a good reminder not to worry about the future, when life’s Rubik’s cube is constantly being shifted, rather letting go and giving it to God.

So to anyone feeling like they’re in a season of constant shifting, constant jumbling around.. I know it’s overwhelming and scary.. but depend on Him, read the Bible even on the mornings that seem filled with worry. He’s listening, and He’s wanting you to see your worth in Him.

-Kyra Mariah

busy bee.

I’ve always been a busy bee. Running place to place, having my schedule filled to the max. Going from sun-up to sun-down. There are many times I come home completely drained, having no more energy to pour into my family and dogs at home, who’ve been waiting for me all day. It’s unfair to them, and unhealthy for me. But with school, nannying, friends, ministry, the list goes on.. my plate becomes quickly filled up.

In the midst of all this, I really love music. I love playing on the piano, but I really love jamming in the car with those I love with the windows rolled down. Country is my favorite genre, and Dan + Shay is my all-time favorite. So for Lent this year; the 44 days before Easter, I gave up all non-Christian music. I didn’t realize how difficult it truly was going to be. The first two weeks I wanted to cave, and just turn on some country music on a sunny day, or on the hard days, listen to some slow music. But it was towards the end of Lent that I started appreciating Christian music. Knowing when I turned it on, there would be no talk of toxic relationships, or a girl crying over a boy, or drugs or sex. I started to enjoy the messages being sung, hearing how powerful God truly is even on the hardest days.

I started seeing growth in a way I didn’t think possible. One some rough days (there were several), being emotionally drained, and I just wanted to hear another person complain, I would normally turn on some slow music and sit in the sadness with the artist. Instead, I  found myself turning on my Christian playlist, listening to the artist talk about sadness and despair, but that there’s hope in Christ through the trials. It was a refreshing reminder that music is a powerful tool, it can either bring hope to difficult situations, or help you wallow in it.

This past week, I was talking with one of my close friends about how I’ve really enjoyed Christian music, and actually went 6 days past Lent with only Christian music playing. Through talking with him, a question came up.. Have I been playing Christian music just to satisfy my Lent commitment, or am I truly listening to the lyrics?

The answer: I haven’t been listening. I have been so focused on obeying my commitment, and my brain buzzing like a bee all the time, I haven’t taken the time to slow down and truly listen to the lyrics. So this past week I slowed down; which honestly was really hard, but I stopped playing the Christian rap. My friend told me about one of his favorite artists, Housefires, I turned it on and let the lyrics wash over me, and tears soon followed. In the song Open Space:

“My heart is an open space for you to come and have your way
I’m open, I’m open
Do whatever you wanna do
And say whatever you wanna say
And move whatever you wanna move
And change whatever you wanna change”
Normally while sitting in carpool for nannying, I’ll open to social media, or start texting a friend. But I started putting my phone on silent, turning on Housefires, and praying boldly to God. Through little things, like putting a phone down, or just sitting as the lyrics surround you, has shown me how much I keep my plate full. Not that having a full plate is unhealthy, but when you keep your mind so busy, it can’t quiet down to hear from God. There’s beauty in the stillness.
So friend, if you’re a busy bee like me, and the everyday stuff fills up your plate, I have some artists for you to look up.
Housefires / Citizens / Unspoken / Tenth Avenue North
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It can be so hard to find quiet moments throughout the day, but don’t waste them, turn on some Jesus music and boldly pray. 
Happy late Easter from my Pound’s boy’s to you.
That was just a little snippet on my mind the past few weeks, hope you have a blessed day, seeing Jesus’s beauty shine around you 🙂
-Kyra Mariah

surfboard.

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So far 2019 has felt like a surfer in the ocean, pounded with wave after wave. Let me explain.. Life is the ocean, we are the surfers, and God is our surfboard, but it’s how we chose to swim throughout life that matters.

You can either chose to swim with or without God. No matter the elements that come, He’s still holding you. Through the waves, as a firm foundation, no matter how high they can get. In the calm, He’s holding you too; but it’s how we handle it. It’s easy to be anxious, even worrisome, but resting in His arms is one of the most humbling things. Doubting and questioning God’s wisdom when the waves keep coming is a lot easier to do. Why is He causing such turmoil in my ocean? Go find someone else’s ocean to mess with!

With family and framily (friend family members) going through so much, and health solutions falling through, it has been hard not to question God through this time.

After an accident in 8th grade, it has left me with health concerns I’m still facing today. This is a difficult post to write; believing some things should remain private, but after the news became public knowledge, I thought I’d write my perspective to help draw a full circle. With constant pain and headaches, it came time for jaw surgery. Terrified, yet excited to be pain free, but quickly learning that God’s timing is everything. As much as I want something to happen, He still can say no, He will say no. 

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March 16th was my surgery date. I was admitted, and as my IV was being put in, another nurse notified us that my insurance had taken back their approval, and surgery was not happening.

My heart sank to the ground, but it didn’t shatter. Surprised, relieved, yet heartbroken all in one moment. I watched as the color drained from my parent’s faces, and my mom broke down, lost for what’s next. I felt at peace. In that moment, I realized God has had me since the start. From the injury, through years of pain, 5 surgery dates falling through, and when 2 doctors retired on us. He has held me through it all.

I’ve been struggling with hearing God’s voice. Something I’ve been ashamed to admit, but I think all of us go through seasons of hearing His voice more than others.

I’ve been reading over James 1, focusing on trials, temptations, listening, and doing. 3 of those 4 I’ve been following; but listening, my ears have been clogged towards God.

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I imagine two people going to a concert. The girl goes for the music, the boy goes for the girl. As the music’s blasting, he’s leaning over trying to talk, but she’s so caught up with the music, she doesn’t really hear him. That’s how I’ve been lately. Wanting to be in the presence of Him, yet so consumed with my own wants and desires, I don’t listen intently to what he’s trying to say.

We’re called to have faith without doubting. Dang.. it’s really hard. V21, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” I was talking with one of my mentors, Mr. Penley, about what it means to ‘humbly accept.’ He said, “it means to lay all our own desires at the feet of Christ, and to accept Christ’s gift of life, by putting aside our selfish ambitions.” At first I was angered, refusing to give up my selfish desires when God has created so many hardships lately. Not accepting that wanting to have surgery on my timing is selfish.

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In the midst of this, my mom’s dad has significantly gone down in health. With surgery not happening, the next week, Kelvyn, Elise and I jumped on a plane and spent nine days laughing till our bellies ached, going to the beach, puzzle making, football reruns, and soaking up time with my grandparents. The trip was emotionally difficult, knowing my grandpa may not remember our time with him, but just being by his side, cheering on our Florida Gators in the 2006 National Championship game, just holding his hand was so so meaningful.

Sometimes I don’t want to get back on the surfboard, rather have a pity party for myself. Letting the waves hit me, and pointing my finger at God saying it’s His fault, when He’s only an arms length away.

Through these past few months of surgery dates, coming and going, there has been lots of pity party’s. But watching as my Gramps has been joyful as his memory slips, reminds me of James. God creates trials to teach us perseverance and maturity. We’re called to find joy through the trials, and Gramps is an example of that.

Elise is an example of finding joy in the little things too. She’s down to climb trees, pray intentionally, and dance in point shoes on the beach. Gramps and Elise reminded me that waves will always consume us, but rather than finding the bitterness of the situation, to rely on God’s strength through it. Some circumstances you can’t change, but you can change your perspective on it.

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I know the constant headaches, and pain I have won’t be relieved for a while, but learning to surrender my broken-heart at His feet is key.

Friends, I’m not sure what waves you are facing, but my prayer is for you to find rest and comfort in His arms through the chaos. His timing is truly the only way. So I’ll leave you with a question.. Is God your surfboard? Are you going through life keeping Him at arms length, or are you going through relying on Him?

-kyra mariah