Author Archives: Kristi Burden

About Kristi Burden

I always wanted to be a pastor's wife and a mom. God gave me the desires of my heart. Because that life looks different than it did in my head, I've been laughing (and crying a little bit too) ever since. God has given me exactly what I need; joy found in desperation for him and grace in my stumbling. My husband Jason was my high school sweetheart; I'm still enamored with him. We live in Nederland, Texas with our three children Hayden, Hallie and Rylie who keep me running around and praying...mostly praying.

2 Comments

I found this charm this morning in my catch-all tray. I took it out of my jewelry box a month ago to use its chain. Since, it’s just sat there, waiting for me to notice it.

I’ve never worn it. It’s not exactly my style, not to mention it came from a funeral home. One Valentine’s Day years ago my husband received it as payment from a funeral director and passed it on to me that tired evening when he got back home.

The necklace/earring set has come up a time or two through the years when a conversation has gone like, “Speaking of funny gifts...”

Today I saw that heart of gold a little different. It wasn’t picked out at Dillards or our local boutique as “something I’d love.” It wasn’t hard-shopped for, but it was hard-got. It was after ushering another family through grief that he came home and gifted me with it.

At the end of the day I’m certain he loves me best, but I’m married to someone who also loves and serves those he’s been called to. I’m thankful for that, and maybe a little proud. He works long hours; some of them are harder than I know.

I’ve seen that same sense of duty and gift of provision in so many spouses in weeks past. I watched husbands missing family dinners to fight fire and tend to emergency. I witnessed spouses go without meals and without sleep to provide for those they love and to serve/give to/build their community. Now that’s a gift.

When we’d just been married a couple of years, this same guy got me a pair of jumper cables for Christmas. Bewildered, I left them hanging out of the stocking and chunked them at him. He smiled and then encouraged me to look a little deeper. Not lady enough to deserve them, I pulled a strand of pearls from the bottom.

Already grateful recipients or not, we’d all do good to look a little deeper. Meager-seeming gifts are often most meaningful. And the best gifts aren’t really those things we wanted to receive, but instead those unrequested offerings and surprising recognitions where love came from deep down.


I know I've told you, but I've just come out with another book. For those of you who are local, I'll have copies of "Unending Surrender" to purchase this Saturday, December 7. There will be a book signing and cookies at FBC Nederland from 2-4. I'll also have copies of "The Village Girl Handbooks" for purchase.

If you aren't local and would like to get your hands on a copy, head on over to Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1699891834?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860



I try to write several times a week. Sometimes I have to wrestle out some words. Other days, like today, I whistle while I work because I've had an experience worth sharing, or else, I've come upon something in scripture that jumps out and jostles me into excitement.

Several days ago I was reading in 2 Kings how the prophet Elisha sent his servant Gehazi on a mission. He told him to tuck his cloak into his belt and to run with Elisha's staff to a boy who had died. Remember that... tuck cloak...run

I remember filing the tuck your cloak phrase so that I could go back to study it a little more in depth. Just five chapters later we see Elisha giving the same command to a another man from the company of prophets. 

Tuck your cloak into your belt...and go.  2 Kings 9:1

Elisha was commanding the young prophet to anoint Jehu king over Israel. He then told him what to do after. He instructed, after anointing Jehu,

Open the door and run; don't delay. (v.3)

The young prophet did as he was told. Observers saw a man with a tucked cloak ask for a private meeting with Jehu. The man anoints Jehu, and then he runs off. Scripture tells us that those watching called him a maniac. Him going about this business appeared anything, but ordinary.

The command to tuck your cloak is similar to God's command that we find twice in Job when He tells Job to Brace yourself. It's like the imperative Jeremiah gives when he says, Get yourself ready. These verses are saying, Be about your (right) business.

Cloaks were long. I'm supposing the fact that Elisha twice tells prophets to tuck their cloaks before running, that they're able to hurry a little better with the tail of the cloak lifted off the ground. Maybe better noted, I don't recall the command, Take your cloak off. 

Nearly the entire night a driving wind pelted rain against my bedroom window. The tile in the kitchen felt wintry on my bare feet this morning. Which reminds me of a few things. Get your coat.

We need our covering.

God clothed Adam and Eve because their own fig leaf outfits weren't adequate. Cloaks, coats and covering are mentioned throughout scripture, but my favorite mentions include

  • that we're clothed in garments of salvation Isaiah 61:10
  • We put on righteousness, it clothes us. Job 29:14, Psalm 132:9
  • We put on Christ. Romans 13:14

We can't do without Jesus.

We need instructions.

Too often, we have Jesus, but we forget to consult Him, or remember Him when we go about our day. We do our thing, hoping He'll bless it. What is Jesus calling you to? Scripture will tell us. Prayer will inform us. We have a habit of running without listening to our master's call (not to take our cloak off, but) to tuck in our cloak. Interestingly, righteousness is referred to in Isaiah as the belt.

Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Isaiah 11:5

We need to be tucked into Jesus to be able to do anything right or good or purposeful.

Get your instructions before going.

We need to be feverish about doing God's business.

I don't hide the fact that Peter is my favorite Bible character. He's impulsive and he's completely passionate. I relate.

In 1 Peter 1:13, he tells us to be sober...alert...ready. In my estimation he exemplifies that readiness while fishing after Jesus' resurrection. John 21 tells us that Peter and the disciples have been fishing, but have caught nothing. Jesus calls to them from the shore. Peter recognizes Him and jumps in the water, but not before...putting on his outer garment. Maybe some would see him as being a little tetched in the head, or as some maniac (remember the running young prophet?) I see Peter in his inadequate self, always knowing he needs his covering.

The other disciples row to shore in the boat. Peter couldn't wait. When he heard His master, he put on Jesus...went to Jesus. He got about the most important business.

So what do you say? Put on your coat today.

I'm sure you've heard me by now, But I wrote another book. Read the first chapter by clicking on the link below, or check out the book on Amazon.

Read Chapter One

Buy Unending Surrender Here

5 Comments

It was a really good day, I told him as I leaned over to peck him good night. We had all three kids, four including our precious daughter-in-law, at the dinner table. Our oldest, Hayden, turns twenty-three tomorrow. Jason grilled steaks, as per Hayden’s request, and I fixed two boxes of Kraft macaroni (also Hayden’s choice) along with some asparagus and fried zucchini. The zucchini was my idea, after being insulted by Hayden's boxed macaroni idea.

Getting to dance with Hayden at his wedding to our song from Tarzan, "You'll be in my Heart"

Dinner last night was accompanied by happy memories and impromptu character impressions, one of our favorite forms of entertainment. We had cookie cake and then somehow talked Hayden, and Haley (his lovely wife), into watching Dancing With the Stars, with us. It’s a tradition the girls and I have. During the DWTS season, we have a standing date to watch it together, and to have dessert. We guess what scores the judges will give each performance and, sometimes if we’re particularly fond of a dancer, we’ll cast our votes on our phones.

 

This season White House Secretary, Sean Spicer, is one of the contestants. He has about as much coordination and sauve as I do (I lay flat on the floor immobile for several minutes last night before I went to bed after forking my toes on the upstairs metal shoe basket that’s been there for six months.) Though Spicer has consistently been one of the lowest scoring dancers, he’s managed to stay on the show every week due to popular votes versus his Cha Cha or Viennese Waltz skills. I kind of like the guy. He gives it his all, even though his all isn’t what the next guy’s is.

 

He survived elimination again last night, much to the frustration of our two girls, Hallie and Rylie. To express their disdain at America’s choice, they got up from the couch and faced each other in our living room. While the credits played, they gave a captivating rendition of the dance Sean and his partner Lindsey had performed. They took turns dancing awfully, intentionally misstepping much to my delight. I tried to sneak a video of them, but got caught.

 

I’m hoping to commit their dance, and their raucous giggles to memory. I’m hoping to commit the whole night to memory. We ought to give due diligence, not only to remembering the remarkable, but to creating it. 

Insist on family time.

Have dessert.

Let them dance dangerously close to the lamp (or play basketball.)

And while it's happening, stop what you’re doing and soak it all in.

Hallie’s going on a road trip this weekend. Though I’m a proponent of ditching worry, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about her safety on the road.

 

Rylie has another tryout tomorrow. She has an athletic stature and a competitors heart, but that has yet to help her survive the sports eliminations that have come around a couple of times a year for the past two years.

Last year, she tried out for drum major. Knowing she wasn’t going to get it, she approached me five minutes before the tryout results were announced and nervously laughed, asking me if I had my It wasn’t in God’s plan speech prepared. 

 

The truth is, we can't insulate ourselves well enough to perfectly combat every disappointment. Believe me, I’ve tried. The night she didn't make drum major, we took her and her sister, who’s heart (by the way) had also been broken the same day, to Roadhouse aiming to make them feel better by feeding them steak. I’m sure I spouted off perspective and Jason told bad jokes. 

 

We have some control over how we respond to the tough times, but last night reminded me that the time surrounding the difficult bears more weight than I’d considered. What’s in the storehouse when times are meager? The Burdens added another meal around the table last night. We added bad dancing and laughter. 

 

We have no choice but to allow disappointment its place in life.

But merrymaking in the lulls in between? That’s up to us.

 

I've written a book! Get chapter one for free, or use the link to buy the book below.

Read Chapter 1 of Unending Surrender

Get Unending Surrender book here!

2 Comments

I have the privilege of carting a car full of youth on Wednesdays. I grab my youngest, Rylie, a couple of usuals, and then typically there's a new teen they've invited to our Wednesday night youth service.

I get to hear new music and snippets of interesting conversations. I know which teachers they love and which classes they're scared to fall asleep in.

Aside from the time one of them brought a snare drum along for the ride, our rides are pleasant.

Besides taking them to church there's a group I take home. We decided last night that maybe they should start doing Rock Paper Scissors to see who goes home last. Even though they argue like siblings, they enjoy each other.

Last night's debate piece was centered around the word bound. Eighth grade is taking the PSAT. Hoping it was something I hadn't missed, I asked if it was something we were supposed to have signed up for. They explained that it was for college bound students.

My daughter said that she wasn't college bound, thinking that it insinuated that college was around the corner. A lively discussion ensued about what the word bound meant. You could be Colorado bound, but still stop at Bucees and other places on your way, one kid said.

And it got me to thinking. Everyday when I get up do I correctly consider where I'm bound? Or am I shortsighted in my planning; only thinking about Bucees or the traffic in Dallas?

We're gifted with a sun that rises and sets, marking off a day, but eternity is the big prize.

Each day is a stop. Hopefully we pause to give thanks when we find ourselves out with a friend or on a date with our spouse. Surely we take a mental snapshot for keeping when we see our kids in a rare moment; getting along.

There are other days, and seasons, when heaviness pulls the hands of the clock almost to a stop. Our kid suffers. We wait for a test to come back.

Our journey is marked with road construction, shortcuts, road signs, passing lanes, and access roads. All of these things are worth our notice. It's just that every break and speedway is insignificant in light of our destination.

The map maker directs us to be glory bound. And glory rides with us; making the difficult along the way more bearable and the sweet, sweeter.

"Who shall come and go with me, I am bound for the promised land."

 

I've written a new book.

Check out Unending Surrender here!

 

 

2 Comments

I hate asking for things. Fundraisers are the worst. Don't get me wrong. I know that playgrounds are built by the sweat of little salespersons. Trips are made possible by the generosity of people who buy cookie dough in a plastic tub. I probably dislike asking for things from people because I know how I sometimes say yes when I want to say no. I'm also familiar with the guilt feeling that comes with saying no.

It's not just fundraisers that I think many of us avoid like the plague. We just don't like asking for anything; much-needed aid or small favors included.

Studying the third chapter of 1 Kings this morning, I was going to stop at verse 27, but when I got to it, a Moabite King had just done something awful so I read on.

I got to a familiar, and much happier, passage. In chapter 4 we read about a woman who's lost her husband. Debt collectors are coming to take her two sons as slaves.

She cries out to the prophet Elisha, who then asks, How can I help you? What do you have in your house? (2 Kings 4:2)

At first, this woman says that she has nothing...at all, but then notes that she has a small jar of olive oil (hardly something that would appear useful in her predicament.)

Then Elisha, the prophet, tells her to hit up the neighborhood for empty jars. He throws in, Don't ask for just a few. Don't hum-haw, in other words, ask for jars...a bunch of them. Be bold about it.

There's not a big deal made, but I did notice in verse 5 that they, her sons I assume, brought her the jars. Maybe she hated asking for things too.

You might know the rest of the story. She's instructed to pour the oil that she has into these empty jars that have been collected. With only the little bit of oil she had, we read that she kept pouring until there wasn't a jar left.

She was able to sell the oil to pay her debts. There was enough left to care for her and her sons.

Reading past a couple of despicable kings this morning landed me on some good reminders.

  • Sometimes we need help. I love how the story isn't about someone doing everything, but instead, about everyone doing something.
  • God could have had Elisha write the widow a check. He could have petitioned her to get full jars of oil, or other donations from the neighbors. He didn't. He had her collect empty jars. The prophet, the widow, her sons, and the neighbors were involved in the process.
  • This past weekend a group of teenagers and adults gathered together to mourn the loss of one of our high school students, Jason, who we lost to suicide. We also met to get the word out that the suffering are never alone. Some brought their testimony to the event. Some just brought themselves, but were armed with a smile and a hug. Some adults provided transportation. Some brought cookies. We all sang and held hands at the end.
  • Some brought not much more than their broken hearts, but God would employ those too. Those who knew Jason would make a video at the event's end letting his family know what he meant to them.
  • When the widow in scripture was asked what she had that could be of use, she had to think about it.
  • Your servant has nothing there at all, except... 2 Kings 4:2
  • God never leaves us empty handed or at a dead end.
  • Sometimes we just have to ask for help, as uncomfortable as that is. We have to recognize our inability to secure all our needs independently.
  • Likewise, we have to remember the exception; what we do have when it feels we've lost everything. (For the widow, it was a little bit of oil.)
  • More than anything, we do best to trust that God supplies our needs. He's just gracious enough to let us play a part.
  • ...we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

    An empty jar (or half empty jar) is just as useful as a full one when we put it into the hands of God.

     

    Things I could be doing right now:

    • Finishing the laundry
    • Loading the dishwasher
    • Sitting outside (It's 73 degrees...my sweet spot.)
    • Rescuing the dusty, stray sock underneath my husband's chair
    • Enjoying the fact that my new book was published five days ago

    What I'm doing instead:

    • Staring at the half-folded, half-wrinkling load of clean laundry in front of me
    • Ignoring the dishes and the sock
    • Listening to the sound of the neighbor kids playing football in their yard
    • Doing the finger hover over my keyboard thinking about how I can best let you know about my new book.

    I'll probably have a hard time hushing up about it because it took me more than six hundred and fifty days to write. What am I saying?!... It kind of took my whole life to write, because, well, you see, the book is on surrender. My life, in its entirety has served as a pretty nifty non-example of what a wholly surrendered life looks like. I've been half-surrendered, or else, Now I'm surrendered, now I'm not.

    I would spend forty-something years hoping that being a genuine do-gooder who sits near the front pew on Sundays and REALLY loves Jesus would be enough. The grace of Jesus makes me enough. But, two Januarys ago my stubborn self would write, sign, and seal a promise to God. Only He can help me deliver. You better bet I'm asking His help... every day.

    If you'd like to know a little more about the letter that prompted the book "Unending Surrender", download chapter one for free below. If you already just know that you have to have this book, skip right down to the second Buy this Book NOW! link.

    Get Chapter One

    Buy Unending Surrender NOW!

     

    Today is a hard day. If not for you, then likely for someone you know.

    Did you know that the Valley of the Shadow of Death is a real place? Should you visit there, you might leave thinking differently than the name (death) suggests.

    My husband, Jason, my daughter, Hallie, and I recently visited the dark valley on a trip to Israel. It’s located between Jerusalem and Jericho.

    It’s believed to have been the place where the Good Samaritan happened upon a man who’d been robbed and beaten. Robbers were known to have frequented the area.

    The ground looks dry and unforgiving. It doesn't appear that much sunlight reaches it. But things grow as a testament to the presence and work of a higher power.

    It’s not a place that many would consider putting on their top ten places to visit. Sometimes you just find yourself there.

    After suffering a particularly difficult season this past year, my daughter stood at the cliff’s edge this past summer.

    There was something beautiful about seeing her walk away.

    There is strength to walk through the flood, fight the enemy, suffer the loss...

    Remember that when you find yourself there, the valley isn’t a permanent lodging place. Instead, it’s a place we pass through. It’s a place where sufferers find themselves. As much so, it’s a place of rescue.

    Don’t underestimate God’s ability or desire to create beauty in life’s dark places. We don’t walk in darkness alone.

    “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10



    1 Comment

    I woke up to my Facebook memories showing the post that got the most attention two years ago. It was a picture of a Dr. Pepper can.

    I have to admit I was initially a little disgruntled that my most liked post was a stock photo of a soda; not a cute picture of one of the kids or else a blog post that I'd spent hours on trying to get just right.

    I do remember though, why that post was so wildly shared and commented on. We were a week and a half on the other side of Hurricane Harvey. People were still displaced from their homes and reeling from all the devastating results of a thousand year flood.

    So many of us felt so helpless those days. As mostly a lighthearted attempt at humor I posted a picture of a Dr Pepper can with a message I'd sent to the local Dr Pepper company in Beaumont, which had been flooded.

    Shelves at local stores were void of the sweet nectar, so I was simply asking...for a friend...when we would be getting it back.

    Fellow Dr Pepper addicts and mere sympathizers shared the post. Friends and acquaintances immediately began to post in comments where they'd seen a Dr Pepper or two in a cooler at the front of a convenience store. I had several friends drop by Dr Peppers they had at home. One friend brought me an ice cold Dr Pepper from Sonic. On a scheduled trip my mom would deliver two cases a family friend had sent from nearly four hundred miles away.

    A representative from Dr Pepper somehow got wind of my post and sent me a fun message back, even though they made no promise to get Dr Peppers back in our stores. They didn't have to do that.

    I didn't need a Dr Pepper.

    I believe we were all thirsty for solidarity those days. I think it did us all good to give what we could give whether it was a sighting of a box of Dr Peppers or a small word of encouragement. We were givers and receivers of God's goodness in its many sizes and forms.

    Those days we took time to acknowledge one another in sometimes small, but most meaningful ways.

    That's one of the best things about difficult times. Difficulty and tragedy awaken the human spirit. So shaken sometimes by things we can't imagine our eyes are open to see the multitude of need around us.

    There's no limit in opportunity to creatively be a blessing. This is never more true than when we're in dire need. Just ask the family who learned that someone prayed with their father while he died in a stairwell on September 11, eighteen years ago today. Ask the woman who had a friend hold her hand when she felt utterly alone.

    It's no major trauma, but two of our three kids packed up to leave in July and August. The world isn't quaking but my hearts been a little disheveled.

    The day we moved Hallie into the dorm I received texts where friends checked in to see how I was doing. One friend sent a huge basket of goodies!

    Our oldest, Hayden gets married in three days. This past Sunday I got intentionally long hugs because God has graced me with a community of believers who pay attention to the fact that it wasn't just the hymn that made me misty eyed in the pew.

    Paul gets it right in the fourth chapter of Philippians where he states that he has all he needs in Christ. But he also gets it right when he writes a lengthy thank you letter to the people of Philippi.

    Christ is enough for me. He's enough for you. But, praise God, he puts people in our lives who share in our troubles and double our joys...Oh the riches of knowing Christ and those who follow Him.

    So here's my thank you note to all the huggers, the pray-ers, the texters, the Facebook commenters, the card writers, the intense hand shakers and "just because" cake bakers. Here lies my gratitude to the ones who've shared a Dr Pepper, a life experience, or even a simple knowing smile.

    And here's an invitation. Keep finding ways to lighten the heaviness, the loneliness, the busyness of life. All people need is Jesus, but what a privilege we have to allow people to see Jesus in us.



    We’re never without a reason to rejoice. Somedays we think we’re just not “feeling it”.

    On those days we get into the reserves.

    On those days we pull out old joys...the joys that are forever ours.

    We re-open treasures of God’s goodness and present grace. We hope in the joys that are to come.

    We say “I am” happy. “I am” disappointed...frustrated...exhausted...because those are feelings. Joy isn’t intended to be a mood. Let me say that again... JOY isn’t intended to be a mood.

    Joy is something we possess. It can’t be stolen. It can only be forgotten or ignored. It still belongs to us when pleasure and ease elude us. We just have to remember.

    I HAVE joy.

    We can always joy...and joy again.

    Re-joy(ce).



    1 Comment

    There’s a Polaroid camera and a scrunchie sitting on the stairs. They’ll collect dust if I don’t mention them to their owners even though they’re in plain sight. That's the way it is with items on the stairs. They stay. I can count on it.

    Particular life events are trustworthy. My stomach growls loudest when I’m amongst strangers in a quiet room. The guy gets the girl in Hallmark stories. I ask for a menu at my favorite restaurant and then order the same thing I always order. I think I’m deathly ill when I get a new kind of headache. The scales have too much say.

    Some things never change. Like junk that mysteriously collects under beds or the way dogs have a fit when the mailman walks down the sidewalk. Remote controls get lost in couch cushions.

    Most days are the same. We hurry around seldom stopping while wishing life would slow down.

    Our favorite song causes us to tap our foot if we don’t acquiesce and sing it out loud. Grass embraces diversity and grows up through sidewalk cracks. Babies make us smile.

    Some things never change. We know, though, that other things do. Fads fade. Sayings get old. Tastes change.

    Seasons have finales.

    Dynamic and the dependable intermingle. New and the ever-the-same meet.

    Boys with fresh haircuts and girls with their backpacks full of pointy pencils and boxes of fresh crayons walk into their classrooms...and then let go of our hand.

    Babies who make us smile turn into girls who move into dorms ...and then we force ourselves to smile.

    Steady and adventure dance.

    He who causes the grass to wither is the same one who brings out the starry host one by one and (night after night) calls forth each one by name.

    Our God masterfully reshapes and rearranges, and yet He’s the Ancient of Days. It ought to make us hang on to Him for dear life. It ought to make us twirl. It ought to cause us to marvel.