A Window to My Soul

A Window to My Soul

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)

I pray as I walk to work. I pray as I lie down at night. I pray when I am scared. I pray when I am lonely. I beg and plead to God as tears trickle down my cheeks.

Nothing.

I feel absolutely nothing.

My heart longs for an inkling–a touch from the Holy Spirit. Something. Anything.

But nothing is there. No spark. No flame. My soul feels cold, and I begin to doubt.

I have silently struggled because I do not want to find pride or honor in sharing my grievances. But Christians are called to live in community with one another, and I am only disadvantaging myself by not seeking that community.

So here I am. Letting myself be seen–weaknesses and all. Which is truly a weird and uncomfortable thing for me. But at the end of the day, this is not about me.

I was listening to a sermon from my home church the other day about the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and it was very convicting. My heart twinged as the pastor fervently spoke. “The Gospel doesn’t save you and I just so we can twiddle our thumbs and wait for eternity… Being formed into the image of Christ is absolutely a process. But it’s a process that should be evident in your life if you claim to be a follower of Jesus. This change is not an option, it’s not a preference. You and I cannot consistently follow Jesus and not consistently grow into his likeness.”

My mind blanked. Where is the fruit in my life? I struggled to find evidence of my growing love and relationship with Jesus. I was staring into the abyss of my own thoughts.

An Aside

Let me outline what I know to be true and the things of which I am sure, despite my doubting.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He died and rose again, and that He alone is savior of the world.
  3. There is a lot I do not know.

On Feeling

“Hear my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray.”

Psalm 5:2 (NIV)

I feel very out of touch with God. And it is hard for me to even write this because I do not quite know how to put into words the hundreds of scattered thoughts going through my mind.

I think the thing that scares me the most is my lack of emotion. While some find comfort in it, feeling nothing is absolutely terrifying for me because I typically swing between extreme depths of emotion. And what makes it worse is that I don’t understand why it is happening. I don’t know if it’s some hidden sin or simply a test of faith at work in my life. However, I want to reach out to my community. I am not going to pretend I am unique in this struggle.

One request I’d like to make is this: Join me in prayer. Pray for those who are in a season of doubt, myself included.

Proverbs 11:14 talks about finding wisdom in the counsel of many.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

So consider this me seeking counsel. How do you deal with the chasm of nothingness in your life? My hope is to cultivate a little community that can share and grow together. Even if it is on this digital platform.

While I’m at it, I do want to ask how I can love and encourage all of you. Yes, within the community of believers, but also anyone reading–Christian or not. Comment below, if you’d like (anonymous is fine).

I am a listening ear for your struggles, just as you were for mine.

Thank you for reading.

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Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!

A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

A Mini Rant That Could Probably Be a Twitter Thread.

I don’t like ranting online. Mainly because my words are stuck here forever, and if I say something stupid, it will most likely come back to haunt me. But here goes nothing.

I’m seeing a lot recently about news media and news outlets not “letting us know” about things that perhaps should be talked about more.

Example: this morning, I got on Twitter and saw where a police officer from my hometown reached a plea agreement in admitting to raping three women who were in his custody. Disgusting, horrible, etc. BUT the person who tweeted the story said, “Why am I just now hearing about this?!”

That’s a great question. Why are you just now hearing about it? I heard about it last year when the investigation started. I read articles about it, even on Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the media has a great responsibility and power to choose the stories that get covered in the news. It is crucial that journalists are precise and balanced in their coverage of topics. It does matter.

However, I’m in the school of thought that we each have a personal responsibility to seek out knowledge and information, even when it may not be convenient or “available.” Because let’s face it: in the Information Age we live in, we have so much stuff at our fingertips. Save for classified government documents (and even those sometimes get leaked), you can research pretty much anything and find it. Public records are available all across the internet. We can even diagnose ourselves with some life-altering disease on WebMD in minutes. (Okay, that last part was a joke. But we all know some of us do that).

People just don’t look for information partially because we are lazy and partially because it is so overwhelming to sift through all of that.

Hence, journalists. We come in, find the information and sift through it, find the holes and where things don’t line up, and attempt to reconcile all of that into one cohesive story. We are not perfect. We don’t always get it right. But we don’t sit around trying to cover up certain “types” of stories. It’s more so a matter of determining how often to cover stories/investigations and where they are placed in the newspaper (and online).

In short, I guess my point is this: don’t blame journalism/reporters/news media for your complacency in seeking out information.

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

Why I Hate My Blog.

Why I Hate My Blog.

The internet has a funny way of making us feel unique.

It’s given us a platform to discuss anything and everything (maybe a little too much of everything). Yes, it’s connected people, but I think it’s also isolated us more than ever.

Our tunnel vision kicks in quickly when browsing the internet. I mean, how could it not when everything online is catered particularly to us? Our accounts are all about us. Our Twitters are the random musings of our mind and our Instagrams contain more selfies than we’d like to admit we take.

I’ve spent far too much time in this trap. But the more I use my blog as a writing outlet, the more I realize how not special I am. And it makes me laugh. Of course I use my past experiences in an attempt to comfort others/share truth/share my story/etc. That’s not the point.

The point is that I’m not special and neither are you. It might be cool and trendy to write article after article about times people have wronged you, but at the end of the day there are always people going through the same exact thing as you. So don’t pretend like you’re the only one going through it (I’m mainly talking to myself here).

It’s easy to get caught up in that mindset when we have a keyboard and a domain name. So in the spirit of self-improvement and all that jazz, I’m trying to start writing about things that interest me and less about things I’ve done or accomplished. What are some topics that interest you? Maybe our common interests can spark a good blog post.

Until next time,

KV

P.S. I hope you all know that this post is really more of a self-reflection than an attempt to drag anyone for their online profile choices. This shoe fits me all too well, but I’m trying to change the size.

Does Makeup Harm Femininity?

Does Makeup Harm Femininity?

I was 13 years old when it happened. I sat down in front of the mirror and took a deep breath. My left index finger glided across my eyelid, leaving behind an electric blue residue. I smiled. Despite the fact that the eyeshadow was actually a hideous shade of blue that did not match my complexion at all, I felt

From that point on, makeup became a mini-obsession. Unfortunately, at 13 years old I did not yet realize all the nuances that accompanied a face full of makeup. But before we get too invested in the self-revelation aspect of this post, let me put it in perspective.

Makeup in Numbers

The global makeup industry is worth $382 billion.

The United States is the largest consumer in the beauty industry (go figure), making up 25% of the entire world’s cosmetic market and bringing in roughly $86 billion in revenue per year.

The estimated annual spending on cosmetics in the U.S. is $8 billion, and the average American woman spends around $3,756 on cosmetics per year.

These numbers are astronomical. And they have an impact on real, everyday women–myself included.

What’s the big deal?

Throughout my tween and teen years, my idea of beauty was based solely on how I looked wearing makeup–mainly because I wore it every single day.

I can count on one hand the number of days I went to school without makeup (and I guarantee you, those were the five worst days of my high school existence). I had no self-confidence or even self-image outside of the realm of makeup. And it severely harmed my notions of femininity.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college (yes, a whole five years later) that I explored what beauty means outside of makeup. After completely giving up on wearing makeup to my 8 a.m. college classes and still somehow managing to roll in 15 minutes late, I had a change of heart.

It’s almost like my high school self had been convinced that my natural face was not feminine enough or perhaps too average or just not something enough to be beautiful. (And even though I laugh at how silly it is now, when you’re 16, that’s the biggest deal. Like ever.)

I soon realized what I had believed about myself for so long was just a lie. After spending weeks on end without makeup in the summer, I looked into the mirror. I noticed the depth of my eyes and the gentleness of my smile. I had finally accepted my natural beauty.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky.

You really look more your age with makeup…
You’re so much prettier without makeup!
You look so much younger without makeup!

Or my personal favorite on a day when I’m bare-faced…
Are you feeling okay? Are you sick?

As soon as someone tried to pit “made-up Kristen” against “makeup-less Kristen,” I got annoyed. For someone who already spends most of her time comparing me against myself, it bothered me. Couldn’t we just appreciate both looks?

Flash forward to summer 2019, when I’ve barely made the attempt to put on anything other than sunscreen. I’m getting used to my face without makeup, and I kind of love it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love makeup. I readily admit that I’m a diva at heart, and I would choose a full face over a no-makeup look most days. (13-year-old me really had no idea what she was getting into when she decided to put blue eyeshadow on her eyelids.) But now when I wear makeup, it’s for a completely different reason.

There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as sitting down with fresh brushes and all my favorite products, knowing I have time to concentrate on my look. It’s therapeutic. It’s rejuvenating. And though I know my face doesn’t always look as glam as when I’m (literally) shimmering in my favorite Becca highlighter, I’m confident in it anyway.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

No one likes to hurt. Our mind flees any sort of pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. But I’m here to make a case for heartbreak.


Hello, meet my friend Heartbreak.

He’s kind of quiet. But also sporadic and unexpected.

His presence is pretty versatile. One day you’re looking at old photos or videos and he snuggles up next to you to enjoy the trip down memory lane. The next day he’s as harsh and biting as a winter wind. He doesn’t care what he does or says and he definitely overstays his welcome. But I love him anyway.

The point remains: heartbreak can be one of the most beautiful gifts life offers us. And I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. It is absolutely necessary for any sort of personal growth, realization, or clarity. It’s only after the heart shatters that you begin to truly view your situation for what it was. I found a great quote recently.

[With heartbreak] the only thing you’re mourning right now was the idea you had about what your future could be.

That’s it. That’s what it is. You might also be hurt by the words, the actions, the whatever. But the heartbreak is rooted in the realization that what could have been will never be. It’s a wildly uncontrollable concoction of disappointment, confusion, and hurt.

But ultimately, it’s the best thing we could have had happen to us. It frees us from illusions and fantasies.