Call It What It Is

To be honest, yesterday was a tough day for me.

I was sitting at my desk completely frustrated and defeated, knowing that while God’s hand IS on my life I have not seen the fruit of the seeds that I have sown. While I have come a long way spiritually, nothing really monumental has changed in my life and I feel like I’ve been going through the same struggle I’ve had for the past 3 years.

“I’m not really being used to my maximum capacity” and “I would have so much more to give for God’s Kingdom if He just put me somewhere else,” are things I whisper to myself multiple times daily. Anyone else feel like that from time to time? You’re not alone.

I cannot discount the season that I am in, because I have to live it day in and day out until God moves me elsewhere. I am not any less valuable because of where I’m at today. I’m not any less or more valuable because of my job title, what someone says about me, or even my past. I hope for tomorrow, but persevere and be present for today.

Romans 5:3-5 reads “Not only so, but we also praise God in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not fail us.” So I ask myself this question: What character am I building out of the suffering / disappointment / frustration am I experiencing?

In a moment of frustration, yesterday I found myself saying “How can I possibly thank God when everything around me seems to be completely draining and pulling me in a million different directions??!!!??” and “How am I supposed to give God the praise when NOTHING IN MY LIFE IS MOVING?!”

But the truth is, God can bless you anywhere.

I was listening to a timely sermon by one of my favs Steven Furtick from Elevation Church and he said that “If I say it’s a blessing, it WILL be a blessing If I say God is in it, he IS in it. If I say it is an opportunity than IT IS an opportunity. If I say it is a setup, than IT IS a setup.”

So I decide the purpose of the place by what I speak over the situation. If I say that there’s nothing to give glory to, then that is the attitude that I choose. But if I say, I’m going to find something that is a blessing in this situation and call it a blessing, then that situation WILL be blessed. When I walk away from a frustrating situation, will I become disgruntled or will I make it worthwhile by learning something?

Today I find myself saying “this opportunity is a stepping stone for something greater.” or “today is another gift from God and another opportunity to give someone a bit of encouragement.”

What can I do today to combat frustration to build character?

I DO have the power to choose to bring purpose into something that seems mundane. I DO have the power to breathe life into the lifeless because I have the Spirit of God living inside of me. If I put limits on myself, I put limits on what I believe can be done through me, when we are all called to great works no matter who or where we are.

God may have the power to redeem my time, but I have the power to call it what it is (free will, anyone?). Don’t lose heart, there is a plan.

Livin’ the Mundane Life

More often than not, life seems very monotonous, very routine. I often find myself trying to break out of routine becuase I get bored with doing the same thing over and over. Although I am a planner by nature, I thrive on the unexpected and variety.

I have looked at monotony the way that I feel most people see it: for its negative, repetitive connotation. I’d say to myself “I’ll be stuck doing this same thing for the rest of my life,” or ask the question “what good can come out of just repeating yourself and not learning anything new?”

What I seemed to have been missing over the years is that monotony can be seen as a discipline. By doing the same task over and over (and doing it well), I have the opportunity to build a reputation for consistency, for accuracy, for reliability. Practicing the same task over and over again can be healthy, becuase it builds habits so that you have room to grow in other areas of your life. When you become disciplined through repetition, you then gain that skill and then can graduate to bigger and better things (while retaining all that you have learned). If you move on before you mastered a skill, it can feel like you’ve lost your sense of direction.

Now, I have some new questions for myself. I’ll challenge myself by asking “is there anything I’m doing now that seems mundane or tedious, but is actually building my character and/or my skill set?”

Here are some close images from one of my latest drawings. While drawing each individual square seems tedious to me at first, without each window of the building, it would be incomplete.

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The Power of Perks

Staying focused is hard. Really hard. Short term, long term, I struggle with both sometimes. Coming up with a reward system for yourself or little perks when you reach certain milestones is key to keep going, for me.
When I was little, maybe 8, I had to write this research paper on an invention of my choice. I could have picked anything, and mine was the ballpoint pen. Something simple, something you use almost everyday. Anyway, all that is to say that every time I wrote 100 words of the paper, I was rewarded with 5 M&M candies. It was an incentive for me to keep going, even when I didn’t feel like it. Because, let’s face it, I wanted M&M’s.
Right now, I’m on a “mega savings plan.” “Ummm, what is that?” you might ask. Well, it’s a plan I made up myself to save as much money as possible as quickly as possible. It’s hard to give up old spending habits (ie cabs everywhere and going out to eat), so I made myself a savings incentive list, so that I have a motivation to keep going (besides the obvious: having a substantial savings). When I save “$X,” I can take a weekend solo trip. When I save “$X” more, I can take a language class I’ve been wanting to take. So on and so forth.
Yes, self-discipline is good. It is necessary. But unfortunately it is not all that is part of the equation. One of my best friends Louisa has recently lent me a called Accent of Leadership by Steve Kelly (I haven’t finished reading it yet becuase I’m letting all of the concepts sink in- but I couldn’t wait to share with you what I have learned so far). He made a good point in saying the following:

“Some people think if they were more self-disciplined, problems would go away. Yet until we develop a vision that is bigger than simply being more disciplined, the change we seek will never become permanent.”

Completely cutting yourself off from everything won’t improve your habits or quality of life, and you may just find yourself right back where you started. As you go into this week, ask yourself: what are your perks to keep you going? What is your greater vision, the bigger picture you have for your life? How do you or will you create a reasonable reward system for yourself to get you closer to your goal? And how will the decisions you make every day get you closer to your end-goal? (Edit 6.25.2017)
If I find myself habitually drawing on the go, I have so much joy by integrating that into my daily life. It’s almost like it has become a part of what I do daily: and I love it! Above are some drawings I recently made on the go, in an Lyft when I was in California this past weekend. Enjoy!
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Reaching Generations

Sometimes I take for granted the things that people around me have created to make my life easier or my life so wonderful. It’s easy to hold your phone in your hand, something that has been “perfected” and developed over decades of tech advancement & testing to take a picture of a classic New York monument, one that took so long to build; and not even think twice about it.
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I feel so often I take for granted the finished product of things; and don’t appreciate the time it takes to build something beautiful, something that lasts, and something people can appreciate for years to come.

My favorite building in the world (right now), the Flatiron Building, was actually envisioned and designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who worked with The Fuller Company until its completion in 1902. Unfortunately, even after working to put a dream into practice, the CEO of the company who bought the land in the 1800’s was not able to see the finished product before he died. Nevertheless, because of Fuller’s vision and investment, millions of people are able to enjoy his handiwork today.

I could study and draw this building for years, and I have, and I always find a new architectural element that fascinates me. One of my favorite things to do in the city is to sit on the chairs in Madison Square Park across from the Flatiron Building (probably with a cup of coffee in hand) and just thank God that these beautiful landmarks still stand here today.

So when you start your next project, think of the legacy you want to leave behind. Is what your working on something just for now for yourself or something generations of people can enjoy later? Be patient, and know that to produce something of quality that lasts can sometimes take more than a lifetime.
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Are We There Yet?

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The waiting and timing of promises can be frustrating, especially when there are many unknown factors. I was reading through Isaiah this morning when it hit me that God is an artist, a creative, and a creator. (Something you always know but you see it differently some days).

He formed each and every one of us uniquely and with love. He has painted and fashioned a beautiful life for us; and all of His promises for us are ours when we choose Him and let the Holy Spirit guide us every day. Imagine an art studio, where understudies watch a seasoned master paint. The artist isn’t finished, but the students don’t know that. The artist begins to pack up for the day, clean his brushes and the students say, “so that’s it? Are you done?” The artist then replies “My work is not yet finished, and I will be back tomorrow to paint again.” Unlike the artist, the creator, the students cannot see the end vision, they cannot see the complete and beautiful painting.

How is that different when we question God’s artistry and orchestration of our lives? Isaiah 45:9 says “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter ‘what are you making?’…” (NIV).

While we are on this journey called life, trying to fulfill His purpose for the Kingdom, we need to have faith in His timing. I had this vision, where I find myself on this road trip, in the back seat of a car (probably a G-Wagon becuase this is, after-all, my daydream); and God is driving. We are in the middle of the desert, and I find myself asking God “Are we there yet?” “Have we close to our destination?” “Are we out of the desert?” “Have we reached The Promised Land?” Meanwhile, He’s driving the car, turns around and says “We will get there in time, trust me.”

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God’s timing is not our timing. When you feel yourself unfulfilled by the promises of God, know that you aren’t finished with your journey yet. Trust God on the windiest of roads, and know that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6). Don’t be weary in your well doing.

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Why Dream?

Dreamers often get the short end of things. Sometimes we get a bad rep for being off in our own world, living purely out of our imagination. But you see, that is just the things that make dreamers so important and relevant in this world.

What if we never had people who were born to dream, who imagined the world to be a different place, who challenged the status quo? What if we never had people who asked questions, dreamt of new possibilities, and more efficient ways to accomplish things? What if dreamers did not exist?

Dreaming is important because dreaming changes things. It sees a current circumstance and wants to improve the situation. Dreaming is the spark to a movement and the beginning of a revolution.

If there is a vision on your heart that you have for the world, you must keep that alive and never stop pursuing the dream. Nurture your dream every day, even if it you only have five minutes. Do not lose sight of the very things that bring your soul to life.

To dream in big you must be persistent, constantly reminding yourself as to why it is you want, what you want, so badly. Having a dream is not a gift to be taken for granted. So use your original ideas for good, and let them come to life!

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A Dream Within a Dream

Most times it is easier for us to imagine what our life would be like without actually having to work for it. You catch yourself saying “wouldn’t it be nice…” or “I’m too busy to…” or “someday when I have…” or my  personal favorite (aka most often used phrase), “once I have the money to…” Sound familiar? Welcome to my every day life.

There has always been and there will always be circumstances around me that try and challenge me, belittle me, and make me feel like I am not good enough to accomplish something. These hypothetical circumstances contribute to a negative thought pattern that is not only unhealthy, but also preventing me personally from turning my dreams into practice.

You see, if we are not careful, our dreams can remain that: just dreams. Who said that you aren’t good enough? Who said that you don’t have the time, the money or the experience to set goals and go after them? Yes, you will have to sacrifice in other areas of your life to accomplish what you want to. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will have to say no to many other things (distractions). But at the end of the day, you have to start somewhere.

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A friend had once given me a greeting card that says ” ‘Begin Anywhere’ -John. Cage.” It has been tacked on my wall for about a year now, but it just hit me a different way when I looked at it the other day. As you can see, I am really into writing. I have always wanted to write with and own a fountain pen. I now own one, but it has been sitting in the box for the past few months. Until today, I had not ever opened the pen, for fear the ink would get everywhere, my calligraphy wouldn’t be the perfect typography, silly things like that. If I never opened the box, if I never tried out the pen, if I never practiced writing my name in cursive a few times, I may have let the pen sit there in the box. Unused. Until the ink expired.

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Don’t let the fear of not being good enough or messing up stop you from even trying something to begin with. A devotional app I use said this “Do you hide your talents, gifts, and abilities? Put your light on a stand and let everyone benefit from the light you give off.”

You can begin anywhere, but you can’t begin everywhere. You must pick and choose what areas in your life you want to win, and what areas in your life you will sacrifice. Most importantly, be brave enough to start, becuase you never know who will need to hear what you have to say. If we are going to make the most of every day we are here, we cannot afford to remain neutral. The motivation and determination to start – it’s IN you.

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So don’t let your dreams be just dreams.

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Dreaming of a Brand New Start

I find so often that there are so many great ideas going through my head, but I don’t even know where to begin. My mind runs at one hundred miles per hour, then pretty soon all my ideas, dreams if you will, end up falling to the curb or shelved for a season. This happens to me. All. The. Time.

I don’t know if it is becuase I have a fear that I can’t accomplish something great (even though in my heart I know I can). Or maybe am I overwhelmed, or intimidated by the amount of things I have to do that I don’t even start anything. Ever.

Sometimes we need to step back and think of some practical knowledge and guidance that will help us navigate the new and start something fresh.

First of all, I encourage you to take it step by step. You are not going to become the next millionaire overnight, just like you will not run your fastest mile on your very first run. Remember that the quicker you come, the faster you go. There is power in building momentum, there is power in resilience, and there is power in moving forward even if you feel you are not making progress.

I am in the middle of reading this book called In The Company of Women, and there was a highlighted passage by this graphic designer from Philadelphia, Veronica Corzo-Duchardt that really stuck out to me. It says this: “You can’t do it all. You need to choose what’s most important to you and go after it. And that can change at different points in your life, so it’s important to be flexible and react to the moment. Put your efforts toward the things that are important to you and that you do best, the things that only you can do.”

Dreams. Direction. Dedication.

 

xo

Kylie