Today, Kylie speaks to us about her beautiful friendship with God, finding purpose in what happens to us, being honest with God, and why children are so important.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a Christian household. My grandfather was a preacher, so I came from sort of a typical Christian-family style home. My mom was a single mom and money was tight, so we really depended on God’s faithfulness to get us through. She worked so much that church was never a weekly event. So to me, God was far more spiritual than He was academic. I think He helped me grow to be able to think of Him as a Father and friend because talking to Him and being open with Him was never hard for me to do.
“So to me, God was far more spiritual than He was academic.”
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope for a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: For me, right now, the spiritual focus is falling back in love with Jesus. I’m really going through this journey that Jesus is not an obligation that I have to fulfill. Instead, He is someone that actively pursues me and gives me love. And I want to show Him that I want to pursue Him and give love to Him not because I feel like I have to but because I genuinely want to.
Profession: I’m a college student and aspiring journalist/writer. I’m the owner of my own website and blog called Gracefully Unfiltered. Along with a freelance photographer of Ky Tusing Photography.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? There’s a Purpose for the Pain or Embracing the Mess
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I encountered God at a very young age; I was about five. Ya know, I would run with Jesus in the yard, talk to Him, read about Him, laugh with Him and ultimately just spend time with Him. But when my grandfather passed away when I was six, I really struggled with the loss of my best friend. And in that raw pain, I really found how much Jesus loves and cherishes me despite the pain that naturally comes in this life.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Oh man. I re-dedicated my life to Jesus sophomore year of college, and it has been about two years now. I think about it quite often– how much my life has changed with Him so actively in it. He makes everything in this world seem so temporary. In my life, I know that whatever I face, it’s going to have a purpose and an ending. Sometimes (most of the time), it’s not the ending I was selfishly hoping for. Nevertheless, it’s an ending that I know God intended and that means it was for my benefit. With Him, it’s always like having someone in your corner, no matter the circumstance.
“With Him, it’s always like having someone in your corner, no matter the circumstance.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Prayer and openness. Really carving out time and talking to Jesus about what was really on my heart instead of what I thought He wanted to hear. Doing that is what helped me better understand where I need to focus my energy and time for 2020.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Currently, I’m reading the book Party of One by Joy Beth Smith. It’s a book about embracing the reality of singleness and the journey that God has for all of us.
Top three essentials: Bible, headphones and phone (mostly for music, camera and notes for writing).
Hobby: I have hobbies and am in love with doing many things. Most of the time you can find me reading, writing, taking photos and listening to music!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: My top tips for staying spiritually strong would probably be
(1) Having the ability to be honest… I think a lot of people struggle with Jesus because they have a struggle with being honest with themselves. At the end of the day, Jesus knows our truth and the only person we hurt when we aren’t honest about situations or circumstances is ourselves.
(2) Stay in the Word… I had one of the biggest struggles this year and it’s because I really fell into the trap of what my anxiety was saying instead of what the Word of God says. Something that I did to help with that is to create a list of Bible verses to memorize. That way, you always have at least one popping into your head in a time of need.
Lastly (3) is that I would never be afraid to talk with Him… I read this metaphor one time that people see Jesus as more of a traffic stop than who He is. Sin being the equivalent to speeding and Jesus just waiting to catch us so He can give us a ticket. And I really hung on to the truth that Jesus is not a traffic stop. He is our Savior, and truly, all He wants is for us to have the life that He planned and for us to accept the grace and love that He not only paid for but gives us freely.
“At the end of the day, Jesus knows our truth and the only person we hurt when we aren’t honest about situations or circumstances is ourselves.”
Favorite person in scripture? I have a couple favorite people who I really love in the Bible, but my favorite person would have to be Jesus (which is probably everyone’s obvious favorite). But if I had to pick someone else it would be Paul, his story is so amazing and you can read it in so many ways. The first time I read through the New Testament, it was all about seeing the reality and sacrifice of what Jesus did for us. The second time was about who I’m going to be now that I know this good news. Now lately, reading it has been a lot about sustainability and living on the dependence of just Jesus and not needing the world to give me something it could never fully give.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? When people look at me I don’t want them to just see one image or description of God. As a vessel of Jesus, I want Him to use me in a wide variety of ways in helping people. In the past, I’m good at helping in relationships, self-esteem, eating disorders or just finding Jesus. I want to always be someone that can grow and people know me in a wide variety of ways.
How do you engage with your community? I engage with the community in a lot of ways, whether that’s donating to charities, supporting local businesses or food banks. But one of my biggest passions is working with children and getting that ability. I teach Sunday school, donate to local orphanages, advocate for foster care and just overall children. Honestly, I think children are the future, and if we don’t advocate for them, then who else does?
“Honestly, I think children are the future, and if we don’t advocate for them, then who else does?”
Favorite holiday? Easter. I adore Easter so much. It’s all about Jesus rising from the dead, the weather is beautiful, pastel coloring, beautiful decorations. Without a doubt, it is the one time of the year that nobody can make it about anything but Jesus.
A goal you have? I don’t typically set out five year plans, but one of my goals for this coming year is to be able to spread the good news more. I’m good at talking about Jesus to people one-on-one, but I want to be able to go widespread with it. Opening up about my story, lessons and how God speaks to me.
“I’m good at talking about Jesus to people one-on-one, but I want to be able to go widespread with it. Opening up about my story, lessons and how God speaks to me.”
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My family and I have a couple of traditions throughout the years and mostly on holidays. One of my favorite traditions comes from Easter and Christmas when we do candle lightings. I think they’re such a simple and honest way to show our love for Jesus. The quiet piano and stillness from everyone who fills the room. I adore it.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Oh, I know my first question for Jesus. [Are] there frozen yogurt and dance parties here? I cannot wait to eat frozen yogurt and have dance parties with Jesus.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I am a huge advocate for both the struggling foster care system and the education department. Our U.S. foster care system is struggling with the number of children, lack of volunteer and disorganization throughout the country.
Children are in an extraordinary amount of pain and not a lot of people talk about it. Our education system is crumbling, specifically in urban cities. Children and faculty are deeply struggling throughout the U.S. and there needs to be more action than just words. As Christians, I think it is our responsibility to help God’s children succeed in their own paths.
“Children and faculty are deeply struggling throughout the U.S. and there needs to be more action than just words.”
What does your morning routine consist of? My morning routine consists of reading, music, self-care and mindfulness. I wake up and read my verse of the day, listen to whatever music I’m feeling and start my self-care routine. Breathing exercises, stretches, prayer and deep skin care routines usually is what it consists of.
What is on your nightstand? My nightstand consists of simplistic things; glasses, charging phone and a water bottle.
Define Christianity in a sentence: I think defining Christianity in one sentence is almost impossible because Jesus is hard to put into one sentence. I think that it would be: A God who loves so graciously, deeply and powerful that He gave His son to die a gruesome death despite rationale.