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

 

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

Drop in the Ocean

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. -Mother Teresa

“Where are you in the world, Kelli?” “I can’t keep up with you!” “What is your job, what do you even do that you travel so much?”

I apologize for the confusion I’ve caused, I sincerely hope it hasn’t kept you up at night. (Sorry, Mom, I’ll call you later). 😛

Here’s a summary of just this past week, which still resides fresh in my mind. I’m ecstatic to share how God has been working and showing His faithfulness in my life and the world, despite what the media would have us believe.

On Sunday, March 19th, we screened the documentary ‘Faithkeepers’ for the New York Republicans Metropolitan Club. Did I hear you say boujee? Yeah, you right, you right. But it was honestly incredible to see a packed room of hustle-and-bustle, always on the grind men and women deeply concerned about the persecuted Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims in the Middle East. God brought many power players to that room, and I know there will be tangible work from that night to end the genocide occurring.

Monday evening was elegant and inspiring as the Censored Women’s Film Festival held a dinner for their ride or die’s at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.

The United Nations wasn’t even ready to handle the packed room for The Censored Women’s Film Festival. We screened 30 minutes of ‘Honor Diaries’, and then several short films to qualify as a mini film festival.

The rockstar panel of women who spoke after the screenings left many in the room in tears. All were informed, invigorated, and deeply empowered to be a part of this sisterhood.

As soon as the last photo was snapped of us ladies, we jumped on a tour van taking us to Washington D.C. The anticipation for the following day was nearly killing me.

For a bit of backstory on this occurrence, I actually traveled to D.C. about 2 months ago and met with various organizations and Representative’s aids in order to organize and collaborate on a screening of the ‘Faithkeepers’ film on Capitol Hill. Wednesday, March 22nd at 2:30pm in Rayburn House, I pressed play on the laptop that began to tell the story of the ethnic cleansing occurring right now in the Middle East. 4 Congressman attended, 2 of which spoke on behalf of the film, and the room was full of movers and shakers in the D.C. realm.

It was incredible to be a part of that moment in history, and I look forward to how God uses this movie and movement for his glory.

My final event for the week was to screen ‘Faithkeepers’ to college student leaders prior to AIPAC attendance. I didn’t know quite what to expect Saturday morning when I walked into their meeting room at the Washington Plaza Hotel.

Approximately 20 sharply dressed young adults listened attentively as I described how I became involved with the project and the heart and purpose behind the film.

I watched ‘Faithkeepers’ for perhaps the 15th time in that room, this time as a peer and fellow concerned human rights activist. I was freshly reminded of the issue. How could we let these atrocities continue happening to Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Muslims, Baha’is and other minorities? Simply because they’re on the other side of the world? Well then, who will speak up for us if such persecution and terror were to be on our land? There would be no one left to speak up for us.

Afterwards, nearly every student came up to introduce themselves and tell me they wanted to screen the movie on their campus or church. One sweet girl told me her family lives in Chicago but moved from Syria. She began to cry as she told me how much this would mean for them to see that the West does actually care about those suffering in the Middle East.

The world paused as I gained a new perspective on what I’m doing. I’m not just setting up posters, passing out info cards, posting articles on Facebook and retweeting for a well-meaning organization. I’m doing the work now that in time will show the precious humans I’ve never met and likely never will that I DO CARE. I do see their struggle. I stand in solidarity with them. And I will continue fighting for them.

I’m reeling in amazement that I am a part of this human rights project. How did I find this life work that fits me better than I could’ve created for myself? I raise awareness and inspire action for human rights with Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and other religiously represented colleagues. My desire for interfaith relationships has deepened, and my heart for the marginalized has softened.

From top left clockwise: With Raheel Raza, founder of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, journalist, author, speaker, media consultant, activist and interfaith discussion leader.
Poster hanging at the United Nations for mini film festival on Tuesday. With Linda Church, an incredible speaker and activist.
With Paula, producer of ‘Honor Diaries’ and ‘Faithkeepers’, and incredible Dana, the glue that holds our team together!
Bottom photo: Dana and I at Censored Women’s Film Festival dinner at Lotte Palace on Monday evening.

Top row: With lovely Dana and Paula following a successful Censored Women’s mini Film Festival at the United Nations…needless to say we were hyped afterwards! Paula and I standing in front of ‘Faithkeepers’ poster on Capitol Hill. As you can see, we’re ecstatic and relieved by the success of the event.
Bottom: Me, Linda, and Paula. Bottom right shows the panel speaking after the screening. Nina Shea, Johnnie Moore, and Paula Kweskin killed it, and I recorded it for Facebook Live. 😛

It will never be easy to do this work in human rights as long as we live in a fallen, sinful world. But this week brought me to a deeper level of understanding that even if I see just one life changed, it makes it worth it.

stay lovely,
the tallgirl

 

 

A Tribute to MLK

“Here am I: ready, willing, and prepared. Send me.” This was the rally cry of thousands on Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Marade in downtown Denver.

I had the opportunity to be under the flag of the Centennial Institute and CCU as we packed our sack lunches, donned that 1776 spirit of unity, and hopped on the bus headed to East High School to march in the 30th annual Marade with the American Conservatives of Color. It was a crisp January morning in honor of the life and work of the great Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The importance of the occasion and high spirits cannot be overstated in light of recent events. One would have to live under a rock to not see and sense the racial tensions in our nation right now.

Although events preceded August 9th, 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri seemed to draw a visible line in the sand between “us” and “them”. It should have done no such thing, though. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t believe deep down that people want to hold hatred or resentment toward others or be in conflict with them.

That’s why the Marade was so crucial and exciting to be a part of. One could witness firsthand all ages, races, belief systems, and political leanings walking side by side, cheering together for a common appreciation for the life of MLK and the civil rights for which he advocated. Just as Dr. King answered the call on his life to go against the tide, just as Isaiah in the Bible answered God’s request for “Who shall I send?” with a bold “Send me”, so too we must be willing and ready to grab hold of the baton passed to us. The message of freedom and foundational principles that MLK and many other warriors of civil rights upheld must continue.

The old adage surfaces immediately when I write so theoretically: “Actions speak louder than words”.

Are we only going to read, write, or speak the words? Or will we plug into a local group, become active members of our community, and boldly claim, “I’m ready, willing, and prepared. Send me.”?

The crux of the matter is this: we are strongest as a people when we’re unified. Let’s unite in our diversity; let’s appreciate people for their differences, learn from their stories, and grow in the relationships we build. We’re all unique, yet we’re all human; this Marade connected people on that basic truth. I sincerely hope people felt a tug on their hearts to spread that message of love and cohesiveness.

I firmly believe our best days in America are still ahead. Let us grab hold of that baton for faith, family, freedom. And let us never forget the amazing man who has helped to fashion the country we live in; our sincerest appreciation and regards to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., forever champion in the movement for civil rights.

stay lovely,
the tall girl