There Is Victory

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

After spending a tumultuous year abroad on the mission field, I clung to this promise from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. “Our present sufferings” for me was the feeling of being misunderstood, feeling purposeless, and ultimately spiraling down into hopelessness. Sound familiar? It seems to be a fairly widespread condition among humans this side of heaven. Whether we are in a valley or a mountaintop season of life, there will always be a sense that we’re not quite home.

As I served alongside the beautiful people of Nairobi, Kenya, with the nonprofit Chosen Children of Promise, I battled a depression that was no fault of my situation, but rather an attack from the enemy who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy anything or anyone that desires to build the Kingdom of God.

Only by calling on the name of Jesus to be my peace, my hope, my joy was I able to get out of bed most mornings. If you travel overseas to a developing country, you will be firsthand witness to something incredible. There is a rich dependence on God to be their everything. He is the provider; they may not have food for the day, yet He brings them their daily bread. He is the healer; they live and eat and drink in less humane conditions than you would think possible to survive; yet when they pray to Jehovah Rapha for healing, they praise Him and thank Him first when He heals them! He is the Best Friend; community and relationships are everything to Kenyans; and when you meet a Christ follower, you’ll know it because they’ll proclaim His presence in their heart loud and proud.

Witnessing this bold faith challenged my nominal walk. Go back a verse in Romans 8 to verse 17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Would I be willing to share the sufferings of Christ (for surely He suffered in His time on earth), of betrayal, loneliness, rejection, being misunderstood, feeling homesick? Was it worth the dark night of my soul if He promised the glory revealed in me would be so much better it couldn’t even come close to comparing?

Near the end of my yearlong internship, I stumbled upon Hebrews 12:10-11, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

My fellow warriors, we’re not home yet. We still suffer death, sickness, strained relationships, depression, anxiety, joblessness, fear. Take heart, for Christ has overcome the world, and there’s no situation He can’t redeem. The dark night breaks with the dawn of the Son! He is producing a harvest of righteousness and peace as we are trained by His sovereign discipline. Cling to Him. Walk with Him. Take hold of your name: Co-heir with Christ, God’s very Beloved Own!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

(Find this article also on the CCV SoCal blog.)

Beloved-Self, Not Self-Love

I’ve struggled with buying into this concept of self-love for awhile. It’s the trend, and I’m always wary of those. Especially if something deep in my spirit pings at the sound of it. Before accepting a fad as gospel, I try to test it against God’s Word.

Through this lens and exploring wiser sources than just myself or IG sponsored ads of motivational mavens touting their morning regimens for fostering all-day positivity, I’m forming my own, (and Lord-willing accurate), concept of this self-love idea.

Journey with me.

We’ve all started in the same place; born with a sinful nature into a world marred by evil & brokenness. This was never God’s intent, but His love for us meant He gave humanity the gift of free will to choose. Rebellion, disobedience, and hiding were the response then…and still are today.

Because of painful experiences early in development, we’ve constructed a mask, a façade, this false identity to display for the world. It’s the presentable self in whatever time, culture, and location you find yourself. It tirelessly works to minimize the pain experienced by “suppressing or camouflaging feelings, making emotional honesty impossible.”

Is this the ‘self’ with an entire bookshelf of titles dedicated to improving it? Is this the ‘self’ to take a spa day for or indulge at my favorite store because I just need some #selflove today?

With all humility and grace, if that’s the self we’re feeding, the hunger will never be satiated.

Rather than chase this false self away, I acknowledge how it was built to protect me. I acknowledge it was constructed as a defense from my fear of failure, of disappointing others, of being unworthy of love.

Kelli, meet true self.

Beloved.

This is the one Jesus died and rose from the grave for.

This is the unhurried, at peace and at rest, jovial, whimsical, unpretentious co-heir with Christ.

“The true self claims identity in its belovedness.”

Our true self craves, because it was designed for, an intimate relationship with God. When His Truth of our belovedness is the fix of our gaze, He begins to mend the true self so we can unashamedly live out His call on our life.

With this new name, we’re no longer feeding the false self with temporary fixes to insecurities, jealousies, fears, and hurts. Finally the Spirit fills us to overflow with joy because it finds vacancy in our heart – room once inhabited by people-pleasing and ladder-climbing and status-seeking.

It’s no longer about self-love. It’s about the irrational, radical love of the Father. It’s about the work of Jesus on the cross, through the power of God that death was conquered for us! Our very existence is beloved through no effort of ourselves!!

This is freedom. Indeed, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” (2 Cor 3:17)

I pray you seek rest in this truth today. Sit and reflect. Pour over Scripture proclaiming your identity as a son or daughter of God and verbally invite the Holy Spirit to begin filling your soul. The mask will have no choice but to crumble in His presence.

stay lovely,
the tall girl

Let’s Meet Him

We have misconstrued Jesus. Do we worship an Eastern Rabbi who knew the Torah backwards and forward, who came to fulfill the Law and Prophecies of the Old Testament (meaning He followed the 613 edicts of the Mosaic law perfectly because He was raised in a culture that poured over them daily), not to abolish it? Or do we worship a romanticized man because we feel good and bubbly inside when we think about the benefit He’ll bring to our present temporal life?

Once our eyes are opened, continuing on the former path is a choice of rejecting the truth. If I meet the real Jesus, I pray I fall head over heels with who He was (and continues to be), not who I like the thought of Him to be for the advantage to my life. He offended and convicted people. He didn’t preach motivational messages as so many of our churches around the globe are giving today. We live in an outwardly blessed, inwardly impoverished era. Hence there’s no urgency to spread the Good News. I’m Guilty Party #1 of this.

I admire the Christ followers with the fearless personality to ask their bus seat buddy or the next person in the checkout line if they’ve heard of Jesus and what He’s done for them. It’s not my comfort zone, and I’m praying to get outside of it so I can be so bold.

These last few months have brought such tremendous insight into self. I’ve had a mirror brought to my mind and heart unlike before, largely due to the nature of my work in Kawangware, Nairobi, Kenya. As you can imagine, it hasn’t been a pretty season. When we see our frail, striving, dirty human hearts in greater clarity, it causes any number of reactions depending on the person and season of life.

At first I wanted to run and hide from it. I didn’t want to admit those weaknesses of mine were real. I wanted to continue to “look perfect” on the outside even if I simultaneously wanted someone to just understand how hard everything was and sit with me in it. Which is when the Lord came in. He did sit with me, He held me, and He has been leading me, even when I didn’t always presently feel Him.

So once my flight and denial phase were over, I wanted to change my external situation. I subconsciously concluded if I were more outwardly healthy, goal-chasing and community-surrounded, then the issues would improve; because I clearly wasn’t doing enough. This is my natural enneagram “3” reaction to discomfort. I didn’t want to wallow in depression and burnout (obviously…who does?), so I worked harder to reflect the image that everything was going great. This was quickly stripped away from being an alternate defense mechanism from self-discovery because the issues were still there – perhaps highlighted because supposed “solutions” didn’t work!

Here I am now in a place of a dead end. A dead end of myself and chasing my own answers. I think a dead end of myself is a fork in the road for Jesus. I can continue choosing my own way or once again let Him lead.

To surrender something so deeply personal as my trust to Him, though, I need to know who He is. Is He someone I can trust? Growing up in a Christian home, I never really asked such a question; it was assumed. Thus begins this journey of Jesus-discovery. Several influences have converged to bring this time about; obviously the inner reflection mentioned above, along with stumbling across a couple books on the hardcore truth of the Bible: The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer and The Forgotten Jesus by Robby Gallaty. For all my years of being a Christian, it’s amazing to peel back layer after layer and be astounded at how very little I know.

In addition to these, several conversations with friends and even strangers brought about a new vigor to know, understand, and love this Triune God I supposedly believe in and worship.

Welcome to the journey with me! Let’s meet Jesus!

Stay lovely,
the tall girl

26 Reflections on Silence

I “checked myself in” for a 3-day private Silent Retreat at a Benedictine Monastery this week. Nestled into the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California, St. Andrew’s Abbey is not necessarily a beautiful location. But the prayers and reverence for God that cover the small acreage bring a tangible peace for retreatants.

As I clipped that badge to my shirt “Shhh, I am on a Silent Retreat”, I focused my heart, mind, and soul on stillness. I wanted to experience Jesus in a new way.

Here are the reflections my time of silence brought:

  1. Your other senses are enhanced. I smell my surroundings more potently; I taste and enjoy my food more wholly; I hear others’ words but even more seem to tap into what their hearts mean behind the words (probably because I’m not worried about what I have to say in response!); I see because I intentionally open my eyes to be more observant; and I feel deeper emotions as I tune in to what the Spirit is revealing to me.
  2. It’s extremely challenging at first, but then you begin to enjoy and even revel in it!
  3. It allows you time and energy to not only ask yourself the big life questions, but to also hash them out. (What is my purpose, what am I here for?)
  4. Because doing this one thing is out of your comfort zone, it pushes you to do more things out of your comfort zone (like lay prostrate on the floor for an hour in prayer like King David modeled).
  5. It opens your mind to realize how much you complain and gossip.
  6. It makes you want to ask people a million questions and just stop talking and listen, despite what “good advice” or knowledge you think you can impart.
  7. It stirs up old bitterness and resentment you thought you were healed of.
  8. It causes you to pray. Nonstop.
  9. You become fully aware of the percentage of your thoughts in any given category. (I.e. Here was 8 minutes wasted in jealousy or given to lust. Half my day was spent in planning (quite in vain) for the future and the other half day-dreaming or contemplating my past, etc.)
  10. When you adore Jesus, you are humbled to feel HOW MUCH HE ADORES YOU!
  11. Everyone should try silence for a specific, extended period of time.
  12. It unsettles others and can make you uneasy to not respond – but in the end it’s a good challenge for both you and them to accept the difference in people.
  13. It takes a while to still the heart and totally check in to the silence…of the tongue and the soul.
  14. Perspective becomes clearer.
  15. Your heart changes. Rather than praying for my way and specific requests, I was asking God to move in hearts, lives, and give His guidance; I was fully surrendering to His will be done and being okay with that.
  16. You come to a sense of peace in who you are – who He designed and destined you to be. Because suddenly the things of this world grow strangely dim.
  17. You feel the sense of time more presently. It doesn’t speed by as in a busy day with many appointments, nor does it crawl on endlessly as an unintentionally unfilled day can seem ‘boring’. Every minute is pregnant with purpose, and you feel it as it is.
  18. People come to mind to pray for you would not have thought of otherwise.
  19. Jesus breaks chains.
  20. As the rhythm of life slows, you sleep better.
  21. You don’t want it to end, but you’re also anxious to bring the insights you’ve discovered back to the real world. (I won’t deny I was chomping at the bit to be home a little 😉 ).
  22. You drink more water…maybe I just remembered to more often? It happened though!
  23. It’s a catalyst for change! I want to talk rather than text, I want to live life with people rather than Snapchat my life to them, I want to ask questions rather than gossip or complain.
  24. It causes reflection on the past – and to ask hard questions.
  25. It makes you miss mom and dad.
  26. Once you introduce talking again, your pace immediately increases.

 

There were many breakthroughs during the 3 days, but I’d say the greatest praise I have was the Spirit’s assurance on my heart to start boldly proclaiming I AM MOVING TO NAIROBI, KENYA IN JUNE! I have been hesitant and timid to tell people for fear that it will fall through if perhaps I was wrong in discerning God’s call for me to go. This week He broke that chain of fear! I am not called to live half-hearted but to walk boldly in the call He’s given me!

I have held back so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if the rug were pulled out underneath me and I ended up not going. It would soften the blow of failure or disappointment. This fear is of the enemy, though, not of God Almighty!! It really did take the silence to name that fear, call it out, and fill the vacancy with the confidence of Christ.

Praise God!!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

Where the Lord guides, He will provide

I wonder at our connotation behind ‘calling’. I wonder at the calling on my life and the universal calling on all believers in Christ. To go to all the nations and proclaim the Good News were the parting words of the Son of God (Matt 28:18). When I felt called to be a missionary my junior year of high school, I fought with the still, small voice for over 6 years. I didn’t know how to start and go about it, I was searching for the confidence to attempt such a risk in my own strength, and I surely didn’t want to be endlessly asking family, friends, or strangers for my financial support (all this can be summarized to read “fear”).

So I lived a self-serving Christianity. I wasted precious time spreading my attention thin on other interests or talents in case they could be “the purpose” God had put me on earth. Oh, the ever elusive purpose, “the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Long conversations, that were more like long-winded monologues demanding that God reveal my life step-by-step so I could prepare, were had in prayer and oftentimes in tears after a frustrating bout of chasing what the world told me would fulfill. Sheepishly I always returned to God, asking for clarity once again since my seeking led to another dead end.

Isaiah 58:11 reads, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” If we believe God is all-loving and all-knowing, would it not add up that if He leads you to something (a career, a school, a relationship, a new situation), He will also provide what you need in and through the season of it?

I do not feel qualified in the least in my knowledge or experience to spread the Gospel. What a precious responsibility I should not be trusted with in my frail humanity. Paul’s sold out faith convicts me in Acts though that all He needs is a willing heart. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there…However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:22-24), “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21: 13), “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31). Wherever He guides me, I choose to trust and believe He will also provide the strength I need.

with love from my current home in Harare, Zimbabwe,
the tall girl

24B0D3E2-9EF8-4A77-884D-BB1F194FA330.jpg
African sunset on the Zambezi River…oh, how His works declare His glory!!

Turn Hurt Within To Loving Out

I was raised sheltered. The more I learn about the world and commonalities in other people’s stories that are missing from my own, the more evident that becomes. ‘Porn’ was a whispered hush-hush word growing up. I always was the last to learn about anything in regards to human sexuality.

And here I am, 23 years old, attending the porn convention in Chicago in 2 weeks.

I love the shock and awe that causes people. “Kelli, at a porn convention?!” It’s like sending the runt of baby lambs into a viper pit…a viper pit with stripper poles and sex toys.

Okay, okay, why am I going?? I moved to the greater LA area last June, and since that time I have plugged into an amazing church community that loves Jesus and people in such a beautiful, service-oriented way.

I’ll never forget one of those first nights last summer (June 2016) visiting the college ministry, as a newbie to the church and to town, everything was overwhelming…but exciting in that way when you know you are where you’re supposed to be.

The leader brought to our attention one of the tables set up outside selling t-shirts as a fundraiser for a mission trip coming up. These bold shirts proclaimed in all caps in what I’m guessing was 100-font, “JESUS LOVES PORN STARS”. I was immediately intrigued and captivated by this body of believers not backing away from a taboo church topic. After hearing about the heart and mission behind XXX Church, I knew I wanted to be involved in this ministry in some capacity in the future.

As I have developed deep friendships with guys my age and have grown out of my sheltered naïvety, I have realized how prevalent this addiction is in the lives of so many men and women in our world today. It hurts me to see marriages suffering and ending because of a husbands’ porn addiction, women degrading themselves for a paycheck or to fill a gaping sense of worth. Shame, guilt, and depression riddles people’s lives because we have distorted a beautiful gift from God into a dirty, often violent commodity.

My heart for people who are entangled in this addiction has grown tenfold in the last year. And now, I’m blessed with the opportunity to go to Chicago, June 23-25 for the Exxxotica Expo where we will have a booth to be the love and light of Jesus to the women attending the convention! I’m humbled and shocked in the greatest way that God would call me to this, and I am so excited to pour into these women. We’ll be passing out those bold t-shirts, Bibles, dad hats, stickers, snacks, and loving on the people we meet.

In the next couple weeks, I would love to have your prayers for the team and these beautiful women we will meet who Christ has been pursuing their whole lives. I know He will place many in our path we can show more of His love to.

I have never asked for financial help on my blog, but I want to put it here in case you’ve been moved by what you’ve read…most likely because of hurt you have experienced from it. I know God will work in big ways during this weekend, and I pray that if you feel so led, you will answer the call to “join me” on this trip by donating whatever amount you’re able to.

Again, I am so grateful for you, dear family, friends, readers.

stay lovely and join me in turning hurt within to loving out,
Kelli, the tall girl

What Inspires

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress.” -Pinterest

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” -Pinterest

“Do more of what makes you sparkle.” -Pinterest

“Let’s do what we love and do a lot of it.” -Marc Jacobs

My life is straight outta Pinterest, and the trending adage of “pursue what inspires you, do more of what makes your soul happy, get rid of the stuff draining you” has had me wanting to put words to feelings of what truly inspires.

I finally sat down today to do just that; and how encouraging it was to pause and reflect on what inspires me…makes me wonder if I really did pursue these inspirations intentionally, how would my life change?

  • deep conversations about faith, spirituality, Jesus, trials to triumphs
  • puppies 😛
  • miracles
  • worship – intentionally focused on praising God in prayer, song, Bible-reading, fellowship
  • adventures – trying new things and going new places
  • willfully breaking through my comfort zone
  • connecting with new people
  • feeling needed and wanted
  • seeing fitness goals reached in myself and others
  • people’s stories that I see God’s hand in
  • when I can tell I’m living out of intention and not habit
  • dancing
  • pretty photography that makes you pause, transports you somewhere else for that moment
  • simplicity
  • strong women with confidence of self in Christ
  • men passionately, ridiculously in love with Jesus
  • random acts of kindness
  • classical music
  • timely quote or phrase in book or blog I’m reading (inspired a lot whilst reading C.S. Lewis:P)

Now that I’ve put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard to articulate, I choose to pursue these inspirations. They are like any trait, gift, or dream God has given us…in fact, I know they lead us a little closer to Jesus’ heart and living out who He has created us to be.

I’m curious what similarities you find in yourself in these items, as well as others, since we’re all so different in what makes us tick. I can’t wait to read the comments below of what inspires you!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

Why I Prayed Last Night To Stay Single

A tad countercultural, yes?

I get asked quite often (now that I’m nearing spinster, crazy cat lady age at 23…feel free to catch the dripping sarcasm with a bucket) if I’m single, in a relationship, talking to anyone, etc.

I’ve challenged myself this month with Thanksgiving and a new year right around the corner to put pen to paper of all the things I’m grateful for. I couldn’t help but write out last night, “I’m thankful for the gift of singleness.”

This is a time to grow in who I am as an individual, not stress about something that will happen naturally if it’s meant to.

I have time to pray for the future hubby, and ultimately, I’m using this time to make Christ my priority and First Love.

That was the core of my prayer. I prayed for God to not bring my man into my life until He truly is the sole focus of my heart and life. He’s my best friend, but I also know I’m much too easily distracted by the things of this world. If I’m not in rhythm with Him and His will for me, I quickly get off-track.

If I see life as a dance, I’m currently being swept away in a waltz in the arms of Jesus. When the time, place, and circumstances are God’s, He’ll let the “perfect man” cut in and Christ will remain at the center…as the perfectly cheesy Pinterest photo reminds us. 😛

dance-with-god

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

 

telling all: body image

Body image: The subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body.

With complete transparency, this has been one of the greatest strongholds in my life. It started when I was 8-years old and mistaken for a boy by a server at Perkins, despite wearing a pink and purple floral dress. (Side note, never let your daughter have a pixie cut until she’s…actually never let her get one. It still boils my blood that I looked like round-faced Justin Bieber til 7th grade.)

Add to those feelings of not being feminine enough a lanky height that made me taller than everyone in the class. A never-ending battle with acne and the late development of features that may add to a womanly figure were the sprinkles on top of this ice cream sundae I wanted no part of.

Only by the grace of God putting mentors and women in my life to encourage and challenge me in this was I able to start the healing process after years of self-criticism and others’ damaging comments.

2016 has been the greatest year in terms of dedicating myself to healthy eating and consistent exercise, leading to such a different mental state. I’ve been realizing lately how many years of my life were wasted feeling uncomfortable in my skin, and even if I don’t achieve some cultural standard of “good enough”, I’ll decide to have a positive, self-encouraging body image.

Remember the definition of body image? The subjective picture of one’s own body. We can literally choose how to view our bodies, so why waste time and emotion on feeling bad about it all the time? That was the habit I was in but am slowly but surely changing.

My inspiration for writing this came the other morning as I realized the thoughts for my body had changed. (Yes, I’ve been eating right and staying active, so the nutrients and endorphins may have played a role in the sudden positivity.) It was truly as if a tangible shift had occurred in my conscious thoughts. I felt empowerment. I felt contentment. Content in the knowledge that I have exactly the body God created my soul to be encapsulated in; the body that He’s equipped for a specific purpose on this world that will ultimately bring Him glory.

When I get outside of myself and remember Who I’m living for, it seems a small thing really to fret over that one problem area…okay, or 3;). I don’t have time to waste my emotional energy on shame and jealousy and embarrassment anymore.

Remember, this is not your practice life. Let’s live it less out of habit and more out of intent.

 

stay lovely,
the tall girl