Thoughts By Natalie

true beauty: kenna hurd.

Kenna and I first met in college, when we were crazy and adventurous enough to sign up for a week-long service-slash-mountaineering trip in Ecuador. We quickly connected during that week of traveling, exploring, ice-climbing, praying and serving. It’s funny to think about us back then–two strangers who had no idea they would become the best of friends.

Since that frightful and exhilarating trip, Kenna and I have maintained our close friendship. We both moved to San Diego after college, attended the same church, and hung out with the same group of friends. She was even a bridesmaid in my wedding! Kenna is a gift to me in so many ways, but mostly through her contagious radiance, which makes the love of Christ plain to anyone she encounters.

What is your greatest passion in life? How do you live it out?

My greatest passion in life is to connect with people. Scratch that. My greatest passion in life is to deeply connect with people. To go beyond establishing common ground and to uncover a shared experience and to know that person through the lens of that experience. I value knowing people well enough to know at any given moment what they are feeling without a word ever being spoken. I strongly desire to walk through life with people–through the mud and the sunshine, all of it, together.

Naturally, people and my relationships are my priority in my life and you can probably guess how I spend the majority of my free time! However, I’m learning that regardless of our passions, balance is key. Yes, I greatly value investing in the people God has put in my life but it is also important for me to be present for people. I believe that in order to effectively live out our passions we must create boundaries in our lives to make sure we are rested, healthy and on mission with what the Lord is doing in our lives. It can be a tricky balance. I am definitely in process.

What woman inspires you?

Since the day I was born, I have been surrounded by incredible women. The older I get the more I am realizing that this is the biggest gift and I have a tendency to take if for granted. Women all around me are taking huge leaps of faith and pursuing their passions – over the last year I have had countless conversations with girlfriends discovering what they are gifted in and then watching them dive in head first to something new and seeing God provide in beautiful unexpected ways – these women inspire me daily.

There is one woman in particular that has recently had a huge impact on my journey. A little over a year and a half ago I attended a women’s conference with Flood Church and our time was led by Leeana Tankersly, a name that at the time I was unfamiliar with. Little did I know that Leeana and I share a similar soul and that God would use her to breathe life and hope back into mine.

Leeana wrote a book titled Found Art: Discovering Beauty in Foreign Places. In the book, Leeana recalls living in the Middle East with her new Navy SEAL husband and how she learned to recognize the beautiful pieces of this unknown place and put them together to create something inspirational to feed her soul. Through Leeana, I’ve learned that more times than not we find ourselves in a foreign place in our lives – good and bad – but it is the moments that we allow ourselves to stop, reflect and pick up pieces of truth about this place that can restore the deepest parts of our souls. Not to mention, in Leeana’s workshops we got to literally make pieces of Found Art – from bits of scraps to pieces of divine inspiration. These projects now hang on my walls as a constant reminder of where I’ve been and how I have experienced beautiful moments in the midst of scary unknown places.

How does what you do for a living fit in with your passions and what you feel is your calling?

Nothing brings me more joy than to see a young woman on a career path that is so obviously aligned with her passions and spiritual gifts. However, I am not that girl. Yet. This post-college season has been a time of discovering the career paths that actually aren’t my calling. That thing that I spent my entire college career pursuing and am currently still paying for… yep that’s not it! News Flash: that is totally okay and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. What truly matters is that we keep our hearts open to the calling we have already received and always be prepared to take a leap of faith and try something new when we sense God pulling us in a certain direction. That vision will come over time and through His grace and in the meantime we all have the opportunity to discover the dynamic irreplaceable beings he created us to be – that’s a job I’d take any day!

When do you feel most alive?

“Ah-ha Moments” – we’ve all had them. You know that time when if you were a cartoon character a light bulb would pop up over your head? I feel most alive when I am privileged to witness other people’s “ah-ha moments” specifically pertaining to their identity in Christ, God’s hand of redemption in their lives or any other transformational piece to this big jigsaw puzzle of a life. Don’t get me wrong, I would never turn my nose up at having “ah-ha moments” of my very own but when I witness growth in other people – I’m not gonna lie – it makes me want to jump on couches! I love it. Maybe there’s something to be said about our ability to identify signs of transformation in others before we can see it in ourselves…

Oh and belly laughs. I feel most alive when I am uncontrollably laughing from the deepest part of my being. Definitely want more of that in my life.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about following Jesus as a 20-something girl?

We have so many options…

In our 20s we are laying the foundation for the rest of our lives. We are making big decisions -. What job to take, to go back to school or not, who to date, who NOT to date, which friendships to invest in, how to spend money, which church to serve at…all of these things are shaping who we are and who we will grow up to be. No pressure, huh?!

The most challenging thing about following Jesus at this point in my life has been my inability to cultivate the space and solitude needed to actually know Him and hear Him well. To allow Him to tell me where to go. We must create space not only in our lives but within ourselves to connect with the Living God because it is in these moments that we can truly be sure that we are indeed following Him.

What do you think is the most rewarding thing about following Jesus as a 20-something girl?

We have so many options!

This is the time in our lives to find out what it is we love to do and what we are good at – there is freedom and permission in that, embrace it! The only caveat, if you find something that you indeed hate and are terrible at… run, don’t just walk away (in a responsible way of course!). If we spend our whole lives investing in the things in which we do not excel, we end up neglecting the gifts that God gave us. You were made with a purpose, find out what that is and go do it and do it well! Discover and develop your strengths not your weaknesses, because the good Lord has our weakness covered! Even better, if we commit our 20s to walking with Jesus and discovering our strengths He will not only reveal our purpose to us (because He is that good!) but then we also receive the gift of living a fulfilled, spirit-led life for years to come .

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

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