Moments In The Story

Taking time to appreciate the journey….


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Don’t Just “Get Over It”

I have heard many people describe experiencing God the most when they went through a significant trial or trauma. In that place of grief, God met them there…and they sought Him fervently. It reminds me of September 11, 2001…when people were brought to their knees in prayer. Even our nation’s leaders were praying and singing, in an effort to experience the kind of comfort only He can give.

When I was 16, I lost my grandfather. Usually when I tell people about him, I try my best to describe the history of my relationship with him and the reasons why he was more like a parent than a grandparent. I almost find myself “justifying” why he meant so much to me, and why my grief over losing him rocked my world. Even now, tears fill my eyes when I look at his picture…the one of him laughing. It’s still in a frame on display in my house. I’m 38…how can this still affect me? How can the raw emotions of a 16-year-old still rise up in that “place” in my throat? Perhaps it’s because at 16, I had no idea how to navigate through grief. Perhaps if something like that happened now, I would be stronger….

Yet all of my feelings of grief could never compare to the grief of someone who lost their father or mother, right? Or their child, right? Of course you cannot compare those types of losses. And that is my point. We have this tendency to compare our pain to the pain of others. We may feel like our hurt is so small when held up next to someone else’s tragedy….so we minimize our pain and tell ourselves to move on. And often others do the same. They also secretly wonder why we can’t just “get over it”.

In this world certain losses and tragedies are greater than others…and they have greater long-term effects. But I don’t think our hearts always know the difference. And instead of taking our “little pains” to God, we ignore them and turn to our own coping mechanisms. I believe God cares about the small stories, which include the small pains in our lives. I believe these are just as important as the big tragedies in our faith-journey with him.

When Job asked God about the tragedies he had faced, God responded with four chapters describing the “big” things about Himself.…as well as the “little” things. Obviously we have noticed the big things about God (Job 38-41): His creation of the earth, stars, and sea; His control of the wind, snow, rain, ice, lightning and hail; His power; His glory; His knowledge; the amazing animals He created and His attentiveness to their every need.

What are the “small things” God cares about? (Job 38-41): He provides a path of rain to water a land where no man lives, and a desert with no one in it…to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass (38:25-27). He hears and provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God (38:41). He counts the months until each mountain goat and doe give birth, and then He takes the time to watch the birthing process (39:1-2). God describes the intricacies with which He created many of His animals – how their wings flap, how they lay their eggs, and whether He endowed them with fear, pride, or wisdom (throughout chapter 39).

I would remain speechless if I weren’t still writing a blog post. Why on earth would we not think God cares about the small stuff in our lives? What would our lives be like if we chose to take the little things to Him and ask for help with the same fervency as in the case of tragedy? What if we saw the “little pains” in others and walked alongside them?  I believe grasping this aspect of God’s love could change our lives, our relationships, and ultimately our relationship with Him.

An important piece of redemption in our lives is found in the hidden and unseen places….and thankfully we have the powerful love of God to meet us there. May we boldly bring to Him what we have withheld the most!

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, November 2012.


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Pursuing People

Ten years ago I began hanging out with my husband as “friends” shortly after he moved in across the street from me. He hadn’t dated anyone for about five years, and I hadn’t dated for a year due to a long string of bad relationships. So we were a perfect match for one another and each of us had absolutely no baggage to bring into the relationship!

Although we were only “friends” and this is what I told everyone I wanted…I began to feel confused. We had hung out in many settings, and talked a lot…but as time went on I wondered what the heck we were doing. I kept waiting for him to “pursue” me – you know….ask me out, tell me he was interested…sweep me off my feet. I waited for this, just like I waited for it in past relationships. It was my way of seeking redemption in the areas of my disappointment. We always get into trouble when we set up a plan for what healing should look like, and decide that a human being will be that plan. So I waited and waited…and waited. Just like in the past.

One day my wise father handed me two tickets to a Broncos game and suggested I ask Andy to go. He said that maybe Andy just needed me to make the first move…give him some encouragement. So against my nature, I asked him and he said yes. And I got to see him with his shirt off as he had to take it off due to the heat that day. And we relaxed and had fun as a wall between us disappeared.  The next weekend he asked me to go roller blading, so we made a day trip and found a great path. He showed me how to roller blade, and while he was demonstrating how to use the brakes, he tripped and fell.

This was only the beginning of our story, and my need to be pursued is still a struggle for us today. My expectations in this area pop up at times, but I’m so thankful that I did not marry someone who would meet those expectations. Our relationship was cultivated because I chose to pursue Andy, but I continue to be challenged to live this way in our relationship as well as the many other relationships around me.

Whether it’s the beginning of a love story, a conflict, a deep hurt, or preference….I dare say that most of us have the tendency to wait to be pursued by someone else. In some circumstances, we even have the “right” to be pursued by someone who has wronged us, or we have our “reasons” why we just can’t put ourselves out there. I’m not talking about being a people-pleaser or doormat; there is a place for healthy boundaries in our lives. What I’m talking about is going against the grain…taking the narrow path…loving in secret. We may never be acknowledged by the person. We may not get anything in return. We may never feel pursued in a way that makes us feel safe. But nothing in my life has challenged me or grown me more than choosing to love first.

In the study book, “Experiencing God” (by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King), Blackaby states, “God always takes the initiative in our love relationship…no one seeks God on his own initiative”. I believe this…I believe it is much more comfortable to be pursued then to pursue. It’s not just tolerating someone, it’s actively showing love to them.

It doesn’t take much – calling the friend you had that conflict with long ago; not to re-hash everything, but to have breakfast with them; contacting the person who never calls you…the one you always make the effort with first; staying in the friendship you probably have the right to walk away from. You persevere, you choose to love, and you do it because someone much bigger than us all did it first. And we wouldn’t be the same without HIM.

Jeremiah 31:3 – “I have loved you with and everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness”.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, November 2012.


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Driving with God in My Little Red Sports Car

It’s kind of ironic to think about the role of perfection in how we view the world and each other. I have spent most of my Christian journey focusing on my weaknesses, my sin, and my striving to be a good person (notice how many references to me were just in that one sentence – “I”, “my”). I’m not saying that all Christians do this, but for some reason the way I’m wired is to seek perfection. Even if I never achieve it, the fact that I’m seeking it somehow makes me feel better (a lot of “I’ms – goodness!).

So where has God been in this equation? “Well”, says most-of-Christian-life Kristin, “He helps me”. Oh…so he helps you be perfect, you ask? Good question. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that awhile back I saw John 10:10 in which Jesus says, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full”. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life”.

I think this means that when I choose God, I choose life. He wants me to live life to the fullest, and He wants to do it with me. Umm…laugh at the things I find funny? Sit and watch that movie with me instead of watching me journal memory verses?

It’s interesting how as Christians we can be about earning our way into relationship with Him. We are uneasy about the vacuum between our efforts and His acceptance. We don’t believe He could really want us to be happy, to enjoy our lives, to relax. We fill our lives with duty and the Christian walk becomes all about what “I” do, rather than what “He” has done, can do, and will do with my little ole day changing poopy diapers.  What if all that agony over trying to figure out what He wants me to do for Him is not Him at all? What if the silence is His way of telling me I’m trying to do religion, and involve Him in something that’s not what He is about.

I’m not trying to down-play the importance of reading His Word, trying to get to know Him, and involving Him (um, finally some “Him” words). But to journey with Him means to drive on the road of life in the same car with Him. And He has to help me want to…I can sing for 3 hours, pray for 4, journal for 10…but if it’s about me earning something to feel more perfected, it’s just a waste. I’d rather have 10 minutes in the car with my rowdy boys yelling in the back… but my heart really talking with Him, like you would with a friend over coffee.

May you experience Him, laugh with Him, and drive with Him!

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, November 2012.


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Only God Can Clean My Coffee Mug

Two years ago I went to a great conference. There were a few speakers and each one seemed to thread the theme of humility into their talks – in different ways. After a bit of stammering, I surrendered my thoughts a bit and started to realize that in some areas of my life I lacked humility and teach-ability. I also recognized that I had gone to such great lengths to avoid accepting this truth because it was not an easy thing to discover about myself. Then I had a picture in my head of being like the Pharisees who Jesus referred to as “cleaning the outside of the cup” but paying no attention to the inside. Just when I was about to try and come up with some happy thoughts I instead found myself asking God to help me understand it better. Then John Maxwell spoke and shared a story that really touched me.

Many know of him as a world-renown expert, writer and speaker on leadership. He is also a teaching pastor at a large church. He described a time (in recent years) when he made a leadership decision that was challenged by several people in his congregation. As he was preparing his sermon one week, he decided he needed to give a message to them about humility. His intent was to convict them and show them he was right. After all, he was an expert on leadership. As he reviewed the sermon over and over he felt more and more justified in his position and he was excited to give the sermon. He even decided to practice on his wife and show her the great words he had created. His wife listened, and when he was done she asked if he really felt that was the kind of message he should give to his congregation. After taking some time to pray, John felt God was saying that the sermon was meant for him…not for his congregation. He re-read his words a few times and the truth began to set in. He read it as a message God was giving him and was overcome with humility. He realized he was wrong in not taking the time to listen to people, and he realized he had pride in his heart. He decided to give the sermon to his congregation that Sunday, but he told them the message was for him. Afterward he cried and asked for their forgiveness, and asked them to pray for him.

John also pointed out that as a leader he had to wrestle with the question: can I lead myself? While we are not all “leaders”, I think we all have to wrestle with a similar question: are willing to do what we expect of others? – as parents, workers, spouses, family members, friends…oh, so I guess pretty much every one of us has someone in our lives we influence.

Recently I’ve been reading small chunks at a time of A.W. Tozer’s “The Root of the Righteous”. That guy didn’t sugar-coat anything – phew! But I’ve been challenged by the premise of his book, which (using the analogy of a fruit-bearing tree) describes the danger in only seeking the outcome others have achieved (the fruit in their lives) without learning from the character-building struggles they chose to endure (developing roots). Here is a quote: “Today we write the biographies of such as these and celebrate their fruit, but the tendency is to ignore the root out of which the fruit sprang. Our fathers looked well to the root of the tree and were willing to wait with patience for the fruit to appear. We demand the fruit immediately even though the root may be weak and knobby or missing altogether. Impatient Christians today explain away the simple beliefs of the saints of other days and smile off their serious-minded approach to God and sacred things.”

This is hard-hitting stuff, but I guess it’s not supposed to be easy when you look at it this way. In my zeal to develop more character in my life – woo hoo – it didn’t take long to feel discouraged. How do you change a lifetime of self-centeredness? Well you don’t. It’s only in seeking a relationship with Him – developing roots – that you even start to have a consistent desire. Only He can even give you the “want to” to change. Then it’s one step, one choice at a time. Sometimes it means failure. But you shove that root back into the ground…and you do what it takes to keep it there. You wrestle with God about it. You do what it takes. Instead of picking up the bag of oreos (and who would EVER eat a whole bag at one time??), the drink, or turning to whatever else is your escape….you decide to do business with God. Of course it’s not easy. It means doing it over and over. It means choosing something different than what you have chosen before…and all for fruit that make take years to see.

But what do I really want? And will I waste more years posturing and cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is filled with nasty coffee stains? No! I root myself in Him and the inside becomes like a new stainless steel mug all on its own.

Jeremiah 17:8: They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, October 2012.


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Comparison: the robber of growth

I’m on a mission: to surround myself with people that make me grow. In the past I avoided this at all costs. Why now you may ask? Well, I’m not sure why it took me getting into my mid-thirties to grasp this, but I’ve begun to see people differently. Not as a competition to step up against, not as a crutch to lean on, not as a “ministry” or project that I can get some self-worth from. Ouch, it’s kind of hard to admit that I’ve held people in this regard too often in the past. And mind you, I’m not talking as one who has completely overcome this area in my life, but rather as one who is seeking to overcome it. I’m tired of it, almost a bit angry about it. How much of my time and energy has been spent orchestrating my relationships to make me feel better? How much effort has gone into evaluating, criticizing and being offended by others? Too much precious time. I have been robbed of years that could have been spent growing.

I believe God brings people in our lives who challenge us. Can’t you think of that “type” of person that drives you crazy? That makes you mad? The “type” you are always trying to squirm away from somehow – whether it is a co-worker, family member, fellow church-goer, or friend? Who makes you uncomfortable? Do you know why?

For me I have lost myself in a sea of comparison for years. It cost me so much happiness, and honestly it kept me in the same place. My striving to be better than others was to try and prove myself to myself. I thought it was a way to be better as a person in my career, as a mother, as a friend. But it was never enough! Embracing the situations and people that made me squirm would have been the pathway to becoming a more stable, solid, awesome person.

I’ve been trying an experiment for about a year now: when I come across someone I’m tempted to compete with, I stop and ask myself why. I choose to look at their strengths, and then I realize they have something I desire because they are stronger in an area than I am. At that point I can either choose to disengage or I can choose to partner with them. I can let their strengths be…I can even tell them about all the great things I see in them. I can ask them questions, try to learn from them. I can grow in an area I’m (shhhh) weak in. I can make a friend rather than an opponent. “We” can now be better together. Perhaps this could spread and more people could be a part of this. Maybe we become a great team. Maybe we can do some great things…together.

I’m convinced comparison is one of the enemy’s secret tools to keep us from freedom in Jesus. Think about how much it distracts us from growing in our own character and calling in life. Think about how much it hurts the people we come across. It creates more for us to be offended about, hurts those dear to us, and keeps everyone involved from truly living out their strengths.

Help me….help you! (silly Jerry Maguire quote) I want to stop hurting others through comparison, and I want to stop being hurt too. But the only way this will change is if one person at a time chooses to engage, and call out the strengths of someone that makes them squirm.

Will you try with me? What successes have you experienced in opening up your life to people that make you squirm?

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, August 2012.


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Seeing Others

I was at Panera Bread a few weeks ago and the manager was taking my order. He asked me how my day was going and then I asked him the same thing. He thanked me for asking him and said that while he has been working at that particular restaurant, no customer has asked him that question. He mentioned that since the restaurant was located in the Briargate Shops it must have to do with the people that usually shop and eat there. I was puzzled to tell you the truth. He was inferring that it was a shopping center with perhaps more “well-to-do” shoppers. My experience is that anyone and everyone hangs out at that shopping center, but his comment mostly made me sad because I think it’s an attitude some people have no matter who is serving them or where they are being served.

I also noticed something similar at the grocery store the other day. The cashier was trying to make friendly conversation with the lady in front of me, only to receive forced, one-word answers. Maybe this customer had something on her mind that day…I get that and it happens. I don’t want to question other peoples’ motives, but more often than not, customers I observe can be rude to those serving them.

Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at a very nice hotel, thanks to a gift card we received from some of his co-workers when we had our baby. This was truly a 5-star type of place and the only time I’ve experienced people falling all over themselves to serve me. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. What I appreciated most was that wherever we went – to dinner or the pool, the servers would say “Happy Anniversary!” It was a nice touch. The gal at the pool dragged lawn chairs and a table to a special spot by the lake and put our towels over the chair in a specific, comfortable way. Servers came by to ask if we needed anything. I saw one of them bring the wrong drink to someone’s wife and get berated for about five minutes. The wife shook her head the whole time…she must have been pretty disappointed.

All of this got me thinking. I wish we would all treat others like they were rich. The servers at the hotel we stayed at did it because it’s part of their job, and perhaps so they could get a nice tip. Most of them were genuine….don’t get me wrong. I admire their ability to serve. But the reason they do it is because of the kind of people that typically stay at their hotel. They are trained to serve this way, and required to do so.

What if we treated those who waited on us like they were rich, but not because they are rich – but because we choose to see them as important in this world. We ask our dogs and cats how they are doing. Why can’t we ask the server? And why don’t we want to?

I write this not as someone who does this well all the time. It’s easy if I’m in a good mood or if my shopping or eating experience was perfect. But what if my food is wrong? What if the grocery line is long and my baby and toddler are screaming? Well, maybe I don’t act nicey-nice then. But I could choose to. What matters is how we act when things don’t go our way.

I was touched reading the story in the Bible about Sarai and her maidservant Hagar. Sarai was unable to get pregnant, so she had her husband Abram (aka Abraham) marry Hagar so she could have children through her. After Hagar became pregnant Sarai mistreated her and Hagar left and wandered in the desert. An Angel found her and asked her where she was going. He then told her to go back and submit to Sarai…and promised her that God would also make her descendants too numerous to count. Her son was named Ishmael – which means “God hears”.  Hagar prayed to God after this saying “You are the God who sees me”, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16) Hagar obviously felt like the lowly, unnoticed one. But what motivated her to go back to a difficult situation was a God that noticed her and gave her hope for the future.

We are not God, but we can embrace and live out the things that matter to God. What a blessing we could be by “seeing” someone else- especially someone whose job is to serve us somehow.  What if we treated them like they were the rich one, or the one we were serving. There are countless ways we could “see” someone else in our day-to-day activities. It may just make their day….

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, August 2012.


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Choosing Transformation

I was moved the other night by a reality TV show about transformation. Nyla – a 435 pound woman, wanted to lose weight and the show’s personal trainer, Chris Powell, gave her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow his plan and change her life.

I have watched several episodes of this show – “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition”. I also watch “The Biggest Loser” but I grew to hate it last season. I got sick of the entitlement attitudes and the selfishness of several people. Ok, so I know both of these shows are reality television, and things can be made to appear more dramatic and entertaining than they really are. But the episode with Nyla on “Extreme Makeover” was unlike any episode I have ever seen and it has been on my mind a lot (hence the post you are reading!).

What do I enjoy about weight loss shows? I enjoy seeing someone reach a difficult goal; I love the symbol of freedom that their transformation represents; I love seeing people work through pain in their lives and conquer it; I love to be challenged and inspired to overcome the obstacles in my life. But my favorite part about the Biggest Loser is sitting and eating chocolate while I watch these people work out. Then I love the last episode when they are so skinny – I get disappointed if they are not really skinny. Otherwise they didn’t reach the goal! I believe my skewed thinking has come partly from my definition of transformation, but also from the premise of the Biggest Loser. The purpose is competition. Yes, there is weight loss, but there is so much entertainment through twists and turns along the way that the goals seem to get confused.

What I noticed about “Extreme Makover” with Nyla was something that truly represented transformation.  After one year (the timeframe Chris allocated as her weight loss challenge) she lost 157 pounds but still weighed 278. So she did not reach her personal goal – but there is no doubt she was transformed. She said something to the effect of how during that year she learned to embrace the process and now she is ready to continue the process. She could have cared less that she had a lot more weight to lose. What she gained through Chris’ intentional method was a different perspective, which involved facing her fears. Her father left when she was a small child and the pain of abandonment was so huge in her life. She tried to manipulate Chris to give up on her over and over again. He endured multiple incidents of her yelling in his face, ignoring his advice, and leaving when he challenged her. But he kept coming back, inviting her to experience something better. He knew that her attempts to make him leave were really an excuse for her to give up.

One of Chris’ goals was to force her to face her fears. He mentioned that the kind of transformation she wanted would only come if she could overcome her fear. He pushed her in her workouts, which she gave up on. He challenged her to give up her security in food. Then he asked her to face the fear attached to her father. He hired a private investigator and gave her a packet of information related to her dad. She wasn’t ready to open it at the time, but later she did. She found that he had passed away two years prior due to suicide. She wept, and wept. It brought her to her knees.  Chris held her and walked that part of the journey with her as well.

She decided to get to know the family on her dad’s side and also visited his grave. She learned that he was afraid to meet her and thought she would hate him. Nyla observed that the fear both of them felt is what had kept them from one another. At this point I had to remind myself that this was a show about weight loss. I continued to watch the angry girl become happy, with a genuine smile. I noticed she started taking her trainer’s advice. And I noticed that she was losing weight. At the end of the show her weigh-in was not dramatic – she was still far from her personal goal. But I swear her countenance and energy had changed. I thought to myself, “I want that”.

My relationship with God has taken on similar patterns. He answers my call for something in my life to change and He asks me to do hard things to change it…most of which involve facing fears I don’t want to face. He pushes me to experience the freedom I’ve just asked for, but I resist. And I have to face the real question – do I really want the transformation?

But my favorite part about all of this is I can’t define what transformed her. I know it involved a series of events placed before her, followed by good and bad choices, in conjunction with a loyal trainer who helped her face her fears. But what really changed her? I think that is where I get stuck. I want a defined system. But what she was finally able to embrace was an unknown process that involved one decision at a time, for an unknown amount of time.

Am I willing to sign up for that? Even as I write this, I struggle with making good choices consistently related to the areas in which I seek transformation. One minute there is the satisfaction of a good decision, and the very next minute the regret of a bad choice. But I start again and choose Him as my trainer and I choose His process….I CHOOSE it.

Romans 12:2 (The Message) Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What inspires you to transform?

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, July 2012.