Monday, November 30, 2015

Are you ok?


Happy Monday friends!

I hope that your long holiday weekend was exactly the restful and fun weekend that you needed. I know for me it was. So many memories were made in such a short amount of time with my family and friends and for that, I am very grateful. I know it’s so very easy to remember all of our blessings during the thanksgiving season and I’ve had a pulling on my heartstrings to want to take this attitude of gratitude with me throughout the remainder of the year and all the way through the next year, too. Isn’t it truly amazing how much we have to be grateful for? By the very fact that you are reading this post means you have some sort of access to the internet—and if you have access to the internet, you are richer than 78% of the world population.

Wow. That’s something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for so many things. I’m thankful that I was raised by the godliest and God fearing parents on the planet. I’m thankful that they raised my siblings and I in church every time the doors were open. I’m thankful that even though my father was blessed enough to spoil us silly, he still taught us to be grateful and to work hard for everything we had. I’m thankful for all my sisters and brother and brother in law and nieces. I’m thankful for Alabama. I’m thankful for church and for music and for sweet friends that make my life so fulfilling. I’m thankful for this small space on the internet, too. The people I’ve “met” through this little blog continue to blow me away. The encouragement I receive from complete strangers has been a blessing. Even the judgement and hate mail I’ve received through this blog has been a blessing because I’ve been able to cling to God more because of those letters. And, I’ve been able to talk to other people going through similar situations.

I received an email from a sweet, sweet girl in Colorado this weekend. She told me that I was able to share her story here in hopes that others would be helped, too. And, let me tell you—it’s always the most unique situations and times that I receive these types of emails that seem to line up so closely to my own life. Not always in the same capacity but definitely in some aspect.

Charlotte is her name. She has struggled with bullying and believing God really loves her for a while. She’s also struggled with guys respecting her. She began emailing me a few months ago and simply said “I don’t want a response, I just need someone to listen. You don’t need to write me back yet. I will when I am ready. But, I know will you listen and pray.” –Charlotte

I’ve been praying for Charlotte for 9 weeks now. She wrote me again about 4 weeks ago and shared the joy that she accepted Christ as her Savior and was learning how to accept his love and now she is called to love others. It’s a beautiful chapter one of the story for Charlotte and I am beyond thrilled to see where her life takes her.

Through the emails with Charlotte, I realized how little faith I seem to have in God sometimes. I realized a lot of what I was praying over Charlotte was something I needed to be praying over my own soul. But, oh how easy it is to think “as long as I’m not doing ________________ or ___________________ then I am a good person and God doesn’t need to work on me.” That is lie straight from the devil. The moment we believe we don’t need any more work, that is the very moment we are becoming the god of our own life-and that is no place to be.

I’ve been in a very good place spiritually since I moved back to Alabama from Hawaii. I’ve had my moments (of course!) but overall, I feel closer to God than I’ve ever felt and I feel like I’m firmly planted with his word under my feet. What has been breaking my heart lately, though, is other people’s heart. It’s an overwhelming blessing (and curse, at times) to feel so much for others. It seems that there are a lot of souls around me being attacked lately and it’s breaking my heart.

In emailing with Charlotte, she started to tell me that she was turning to alcohol to numb the pain of bullying. She was sleeping with any and every guy because she never knew the true love of a man and she was giving herself away over and over again. She wanted the respect from men but she realized giving herself away continually wasn’t going to be the answer.

And just like Charlotte, and a lot of us, we are looking to the wrong things for answers. Alcohol may make you feel good for a night but it destroys families and relationships and your soul. Sex feels good but it leaves you empty and broken if you are not engaging in it within the bounds of marriage. There are so many sins that look fun but destroy you. And, a lot of times no one is there to tell you that. Even some of my own friends have been the “partier” or the “girl sleeping around” and I’ve simply not said anything because I think “oh my actions will be enough of an influence.” But you know what? Sometimes it’s okay to be the friend that calls out that friend—in love and asks them, “Friend, are you ok?”

Charlotte told me she kept doing this lifestyle because no one asked her if she was ok so she just thought in her mind that she was. She said she had Christian friends and she knew that she was empty but no one asked her how she was, ever, so she continued in that lifestyle.

Friends, as I read that line in her email, my heart shattered. I never wanted to be so simple minded to be blind to what my friends are going through. So, I just need to ask you—are you ok? Is there something that you are going through the you need prayer for? I would love to pray for you if so. There is nothing too big or too personal that God can’t handle. I promise you that.

Your struggle and story could be used to help others. We seem to think that we have to be super shameful of our past. But, there is grace that we experience from our past and from our sins. And, the history of our lives reveals God’s enduring plan. If anything, it can be used to save others because we can look back and see that God was right there, the whole time, he was right there.

If you aren’t ok, please don’t feel like you have no one to turn, too. You have God. And, as cheesy as it may be, you have me. I wasn’t ever seriously injured by bullies but I did have a less than stellar high school experience for loving God. I’ve had horrible encounters with men because I’ve decided to wait until marriage to have sex. I don’t have an extra ordinary testimony. I met Jesus when I was five and he’s always been there and he’s always been enough for me.

I have struggles, too. I don’t like the way I look when I look in the mirror most mornings. But, God created me. He delights in me. He loves me, flaws and all. He looks at my heart and he’s way more concerned with my heart than my bank account or who thinks I am cool or not. He’s concerned if I’m okay.

I heard God ask me if I was ok many times while living in Hawaii this summer. He wanted me to know that it was okay to not be okay. It was okay to want more in life than to work for a record label or be with a certain guy or to want to be friends with a certain girl. And, the truth is—there IS so much more to life but a lot of times we don’t realize that because no one is asking you if you’re okay. So, I want to be the voice to ask you—are you ok?

I asked myself that. I’m not okay sometimes. I struggle with where I am at in life. I want to spend every single breath trying to win over souls to Christ. I want to move back to Hawaii and finish this school and live out my life telling others about the grace and love of Jesus. But, there’s a lot of obstacles in the way and sometimes that makes me feel like I’m not ok. But, at the end of it all, I am okay. And so are you because we have a God that is cheering us on and he wants you to know that YOU ARE OK. Don’t live for other people. That is exhausting and dangerous. Live for God. You’ll be ok. I promise.

 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Interview // Luke Combs

They say all good guys come from Georgia--and while I agree with that statement, we need to add North Carolina to that list as well. We need to add it to the list because that is Luke Combs home state and if you don't recognize the name, let me apologize for that. And let me take a few minutes to introduce you to him. Luke is an amazing singer-songwriter who is currently on select dates touring with Chase Rice and Cadillac 3. And, while he is newer to the "touring scene," there were just as many people singing the lyrics of Hurricane back to him Friday night in Birmingham as there were fans singing Ready Set Roll back to Chase.

Luke took some time before his show to sit down with me and tell me a little more of his story. He is a great guy and an incredible musician. He couldn't miss a note if he tried. He's one of the few artists that I think country music NEEDS right now. Allow me to introduce you.

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1. Like several other country music artists, you played sports growing up as well as finding a passion with music. Were (if there were any) aspects from sports that carried over to music or vice versa?


"I would honestly say not a lot, really, just because I was terrible at football. I was an under-achiever in that aspect of my life until I really focused in on my passion for music. I picked a guitar up for the first time about three and a half years ago. I've been singing my entire life through high school and since. Music is really the thing that has taught me about other aspects of life as opposed to other aspects of life teaching me about music. Music was always the one thing that I was super passionate about. And still am. Football was great. I played rugby in college, which was great for me, because we didn't have a lot of funding or a coach. So, that aspect instilled in me a DIY approach to things including music. I've recently met a few people who are helping guide me to be a little more professional in the music scene."


2. So, even though sports has played a role in your life and taught you valuable lessons, music has always been the main passion? You knew early on that music was the path you wanted to pursue?

"Yes. I just didn't find my focus or direction to make music my means of living until a few years ago. I remember my first show I just fell in love with it. It was an acoustic show in my college town. It was great. Ever since then I've been extremely focused on music as the goal."

3. You are a songwriter as well as an artist. What is the song writing process like for you? Do you have several ideas already planned out in your mind going into a write? Or do more of your songs happen spontaneously on the spot?

"I went into a co-write one time and someone said 'you should always try to keep your mind in songwriter mode at all times and when you hear a certain phrase or situation, process that as an idea and jot it down.' I'll jot down lots of phrases or ideas for titles in my phone. Then, going into a co-write, I'll bounce some of the ideas off the other writers. Sometimes we choose my idea, sometimes we don't. I'm a guy who tries to write everything. I know when I sit down and write a song if it's for me or not. I've written tons of good songs that I don't think are for me and I've written lots of bad songs, too. I would encourage anyone else to keep that in mind. You don't have to write inside a box just for yourself.  Just focus on making good music. Then you can decide if it's for you or not."

4. Where do you get the most inspiration for ideas for new songs?

"Oh, everything. I'm a big phrase guy so someone can say something off the wall a little bit, like a 'southernism.' For example, when it was raining really hard my mom would say 'oh that's a frog strangler.' So, things like that I hear and sometimes think to myself if that's ever been a song before. I get a lot of inspiration from little tag lines but then there are certain situations that I've been in that inspire songs, too. Everything in life--I try to make it situations that are true to me as much as I can to make it authentic. Everyday life. And, not normally in a musical setting. I'm not going to come up with a great idea for a song sitting in a dressing room before a show starts. Living life is when the most inspiration comes."

5. Who is one artist that you would love to collaborate with?

"Eric Church. No doubt about that."

6. What is your favorite song to play live?

"There's a song that is on the new EP, coming out on Black Friday, it's called Beer Can. I've had a lot of other songs that I've written that I think are great but they don't necessarily get the crowd going or roaring. This is kind of a hell raising, beer drinking song. I really enjoy playing that one live and I can't wait for it to be out so hopefully more and more people will start singing along with it, too. And, Hurricane. Everyone seems to be singing along to that one recently. Beer Can and Hurricane are my favorites. Anything that really gets the crowd engaged."

7. What has been your favorite venue to play?

"That's tough. I had a great time at the Georgia Theater-that was super cool. We played at the Tabernacle last night and that was awesome, too. There are a few places that I've played at that have been pretty special. I played at Carnegie Hall when I was younger and that was definitely cool. Peachtree Tavern is always a blast, too."

8. Who are your musical influences?

"From an artist perspective and a writer perspective there are different influences. Writing-- Travis Meadows, I'm a big fan of his and Jonathan Singleton. People who write their own stuff are big to me because it's neat to watch an artist perform a song that they wrote knowing they lived those lyrics. From an artist perspective, I'm a die hard Eric Church fan. I grew up listening to 90's country. Vince Gill was my first concert."

9. What is your plan for the next year? Your EP is coming out on Black Friday, what's the plan for the remainder of this year and next?

"I want to kind of follow suit like Old Dominion did. They put out an EP which led to a full album release. That's my plan. Hopefully to have a full album released by the beginning of summer. I'm not signed yet but that's still the plan. I have the means to make that happen at this point, which is awesome. Getting music to people who want to hear it is my main focus and goal. If you enjoy my music, that's great."

10. What is one thing that you've learned from other artists since being out on the road touring?

"I didn't realize until a few months ago when I got my booking deal with my awesome booking agent (Matt MaGuire) how much more professional the industry was. I can't say that any one artist taught me that. A lot of people think it's one big party back here. That's not true. I've learned that from every artist. We are here on business--to further our career, gain fans and put on a good show. It's much more professional and scheduled. It is a tough job. I'm trying to up my game and become more professional with each gig."

11. What is your definition of country music?

"My definition of country music is music that speaks to people. I'm not a person who likes to put down success in general. I'm not a guy that will hate on anyone having success because I'm a fan of that. I think that it's amazing to see what so many artists have done. If you're making music that touches people--whether it's got a beat in it or a steel guitar, that's what's more important. It is what it is to each individual fan."

Check out Luke's website for more information.

And make sure you're following him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Thank you Luke for taking the time to talk music. His live show was fantastic and I'm very excited for everything he has coming up over the next few months.




















































































Saturday, November 14, 2015

I'm ready.

"But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims, A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to."

-Romans 10:14-17


...Not everybody is ready for this. It's my prayer that each of you reading this post had a wonderful week full of God's grace and that you experienced the love of Jesus each day this week. I know that it's hard sometimes to feel like Jesus is there with us, especially on a bad day, B U T if there is one thing that I've learned over the past seven days, it's that those are the very days he is the closest.

I don't want to preach one thing in these blog posts and live a different way. I want to be so transparent because I want Jesus to continually come and make me new and make me better. I don't want to pretend to have a perfect life or to have everything figured out because I do not have a perfect life or everything figured out. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful experiences and family and friends that I do have and I'm honestly so content with life but that doesn't mean that they are never bad days. Case in point: Tuesday.

This will be slightly funny to some reading this because normal Tuesday's are like my anthem days. I love Tuesdays. Tuesday is the forgotten day of the week. So, I have tried in the past year or so to make everyone love Tuesdays, too. I know God has a sense of humor because lately Tuesdays have been out of this world--filled with good emails, fun opportunities and cookie days at work. But last Tuesday was hard.

I love working at my new job since moving home from Hawaii. And, I get to work with my sister so double bonus. We had to travel about 70 miles on Tuesday to a satellite office (which was absolutely fine!) but we didn't leave until almost 8 PM. It happens. Ha. I don't mind. But, last Tuesday my jaw was hurting so bad I would just cry. I started having jaw pain while I was in Hawaii and went to the dentist and was told I have TMJ and Tuesday was just it's day to show out. I was talking with one of my friends who I also work with about Hawaii and just started to get a little hopeless. I know that's where I'm called. I know that I'll get there but it was just an off day. Life has been so unbelievably fun since I moved back and some days I don't want to move back. I don't want it to be hard. I don't want to miss my family. I don't want to lose a steady income and stress about paying for a car and insurance and phone and tuition and outreach and everything else. I just don't want to some days. It's those days though, like Tuesday, where Jesus stays puts these situations in my path where he says "but Katelyn, you're ready for this."

Isn't it neat how when we fervently pray for something for so long--and then we get it, we act spoiled and entitled? Maybe that is just how I seem to approach life sometimes but I prayed about a life path being clear and I prayed for direct answers and so forth, then I get the answers and I doubt. That is so frustrating to me as a Christian. Jesus has taken care of my soul since day 1 and always in His timing and I've never lacked anything. I'm so sorry Jesus for not cultivating the trust that I should have by this point in my walk with You. I know I'm ready for the next journey and for the next season and I'm beyond ready to go.

I've had several girls emailing me this week that I felt were going through similar situations with wanting to trust more and I thought, wow, if there are 4 or 5 of us who are going through this, maybe more people need prayer. Or, maybe you simply need a nudge and a reminder that Jesus has got this--and you're ready. That can look like a lot of different things, too. Each girl gave me permission to mention their stories in hopes to encourage others. One girl I've been talking to this week realized she was ready to leave a good relationship for a great relationship with God. Her boyfriend was/is a "good" person but he doesn't love God. They've crossed lots of boundaries that she didn't want to cross and she's ready for more. She was raised in a Christian household and she knows that fulfillment (complete fulfillment) can only come from Jesus--and she's ready for that.

Another girl has been emailing me for a long time about bullying at her school. While I wasn't ever physically bullied, I did lose friends in high school and college for standing up for what I believed in. This sweet soul is in the same boat. Her "friends" aren't true friends and have been bullying her for not participating in secular things that are a) illegal and b) damaging to her reputation. And now she's ready for a fun filled life centered around Christ--whatever that looks like.

So, this week, on Tuesday after work and after praying all day, I was on the way home. Several songs from shuffle had played and I was singing along like I always do. Then, "Give Me Faith" came on shuffle. At the exact moment I received a message in relation to Hawaii that was literally the most perfectly timed message I have E V E R received. I got chill bumps putting together so many pieces in my mind about life. I had been crying sad tears at several points throughout the day and there I was sitting in my car crying happy tears. Jesus was speaking through the lyrics of that song and the worship songs that played after that one more than He has ever, ever, ever spoken to me through worship.

"Give me faith to trust what You say. That You're good and Your love is great."
That was the line that played over and over in my mind. For whatever reason, that line was shouting in my mind. The shouting proved the urgency. To have that sort of faith. Hey, girl, you're ready for this. God will continue to make a way like He always has. Don't lose the faith. Don't get tired. Don't get angry. Wake up with a thankful heart. Tell the people who you love that you love them. Pray.

Jesus, please keep renewing my faith and providing the way you always have. Thank you for being the best Father and the best friend in this sad, lonely, broken world. Thank you for not leaving me when friends did or when boys did. Thank you for the strength to trust what you say.

There is so much freedom in Jesus. I know a lot of people who aren't believers see Christianity as a bunch of rules that lead to a boring life. But, I can promise you one thing. Life with Jesus is SO much fun. It's so rewarding. It's so worth the journey. He is good.

He is good. He is good on the best Tuesdays. He is good on the bad Tuesdays. He is ALWAYS GOOD.

God doesn't want us to trust in methods. He simply wants us to trust in Him.

This is, as always, all over the place. But, I was really discouraged (then encouraged) this week. In this midst of all the fun of life, I'm reminded that--in a beautifully, molding kind of way--that I'm weak. And, apart from Jesus, I'll always be weak. But, He's good. And He tells me I'm ready for this. The next season. The next relationship. The next heartbreak. The next let down. The next open door. I'm ready for this--and it's my prayer that you'll be ready, too!

:)
































Sunday, November 1, 2015

she said yes.

the most common phrase that is associated with marriage proposals. or prom proposals. or proposals from a male to a female for any significant occasion. the one question everyone wants to know the answer to--did she say yes? but, no, this isn't a recap of a marriage proposal today. ;)
 
this is a response. a response to every question I feel like Jesus is asking of me. this is a response to every teacher and preacher and leader in my life that's asking something of me. this is a response to every crippling fear and every worry inside of me. in spite of it all, I'm saying yes.
 
I don't want to live a life where I look back in 20 years or 2 weeks or 2 hours from now and ever regret not saying "yes" to the Lord. will it be scary? absolutely. am I terrified? you've got it. but, is it worth it? yes. a resounding yes. a million times over again and again, the answer is yes.
 
we live in a world that needs Jesus. this world and the people in it need Jesus so bad. have you ever thought about the fact that in 100 years we will all be gone? and what car we drove or what color our hair was or what our dog's name was won't matter? a lot of things won't matter in 100 years. BUT, our souls will matter. where will our soul be in 100 years? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that mine will be in the presence of an almighty, perfect and loving God--and that realization is reason enough for me to say yes.
 
God asks a lot of us. Yes, that's true. He commands our respect and he's set guidelines for us because he loves us. The number one lie I hear from people is that you cannot love God and have fun. I hope that anyone who has ever heard that lie just chuckles on the inside and discredits the person who said that. I try my best to love Jesus 100% and I don't think anyone could look at my life and describe it by any other word than fun.
 
Loving Jesus is SO fun. it's the most fun thing you could do. to wholly surrender your entire life to the very one that created it seems like a smart thing to do to me. putting my heart and my dreams and my desires in the hands of my Creator makes the most sense to me.
 
Sin is fun. Sure, it is. The Bible never says that sin isn't fun. BUT, sin leads you down a path that is so NOT fun. there are rules to help keep you safe and happy. we live in a world where commitment in relationships is non existent sometimes. You have people in "committed relationships" who are running around on each other because it's "fun" and "makes them feel good" and way too many other reasons that aren't even valid reasons. If you are in a relationship and you are a Christian guy or girl, be committed and set a good example. We have too many Christians half way living for Jesus and it's killing our testimony. Be different. Be better. Say yes to what Jesus is asking of you.
 
I haven't always said yes to Jesus. There have been times I know He has told me to love someone better or pray for someone or be a kind human to someone and I've ignored it. And that is on me. I'll have to answer for the times I've ignored God. But, I promise you so much joy and fulfillness will be found when you learn to say yes to Him.
 
I've posted a few reaps from what I've learned this summer in Hawaii and I've got 2 journals full of more things I've learned this past summer. scanning back over them, the major thing that stands out is me realizing what God is asking of me. He's asking me to go. Wherever He leads me to, He wants me to go. I was accepted into a 6 month missionary training school in Hawaii and I will be leaving at the beginning of January to complete the next thing I feel like Jesus asked me to say yes to. It's terrifying me to be honest. My hands get clammy just typing about it. I've never been gone as long as I was this summer and this program is twice as long. It's intense. It's training you how to introduce Jesus to people who have never even heard of Him. The second phase is a three month outreach to a very far away location and it's going to be hard. Going somewhere that I could have to give my life is terrifying. But, answering yes has taken the biggest weight off my shoulders and I know that is where I'm called to. Do I know what I'll do at the end of those six months? Not exactly. But, I do know that I'll be conditioned to say yes to whatever it is the Lord asks of me.
 
I'm not completely there yet. I'm still saying no a lot more than I know I'm suppose to. But, I'm praying through the no's and trying to say yes a lot more. Will you join with me in praying for that? That I'll have the wisdom and courage to say yes to the things that God is asking of me. I know that the same power that raised Jesus from the tomb is inside each of us as Christians. And I'm beyond exhausted watching myself and others not live in that victory. Hold your head high, high, high up if you are a child of God. He delights in you. He has SO much in store for you. Whether you are in Montevallo or New York or Kona or Nashville, God is right there with you. He loves you and He's asking you to say yes. He's asking me to say yes. Let's say yes to whatever He's asking of us together. I will always pray for any one of you that may have any requests. You can always email me. I know that I'm far from the Christian I want to be but I don't want to live in fear. I don't want to pretend I have it all together when fear and doubt and "you're not good enough" feelings bubble in me every day. I want to be able to say that I'm overcoming those fears and doubts and I'm learning to say yes. But, I think it's so much more important to not pretend we're the perfect Christian when so many of us are hurting and battling things that can be overcome with saying YES to the Lord. 
 
I'm praying for you, friend. However you happened to stumble across this post, please know that I'm praying for every heart that is hear reading this babbling of mine. :)
Happy Sunday!