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

Masai Mara Safari

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” -Job 12:7-10

To what can I compare the breathtaking beauty of the wild African savannah?

IMG_8274

With family visiting me in Kenya earlier this month, a 3-day Masai Mara safari was a must!

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Of the Big Five we saw four: lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. The rhino’s evaded us, but the wildebeest migration, hordes of adorable donkeys in pajamas (zebras;)), giraffes, ostrich, hyena, hippos, and crocodiles made up for it! The leopard is one of the rarest to see, and it happened to be enjoying its dinner in a tree when we were able to spot a glimpse! (pun intended).

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The four of us will always remember this adventure fondly. Sopa Lodge is a stunning location to relax after each long day, and I can speak very highly for Classic Journeys, our tour guide company!

If you haven’t added African safari to your bucket list yet, be sure to change that! It’s impossible to walk away unmoved, uninspired by the wild beauty around you!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

In Freedom & Confidence

It has been a whirlwind of a week, settling in to life in Nairobi!

To be honest, I’m not sure how my mind hasn’t imploded from stimulus overload, cultural confusion, and emotional ups and downs.

Christ has been my consistent rock, and the fantastic community who have graciously welcomed me “home” keep pointing me back to Him. That is really the only way this has been possible. His peace transcends understanding, truly. I get this Truth at a new and deeper level being here and being so far from “comfort zone”.

Africa is so stunningly different from America. Everyone speaks English, and they seem to speak it more often than Swahili naturally, which is a blessing. Sometimes they intermix the two in the same conversation, using Shang (Swahili-English slang), and you just have to nod along like you’re tracking. 😉

A couple sweet memories and takeaways from the past few days:

On Saturday I went to a “baby blessing/shower” with my host mama, Anne. You know what’s super cool about how they do it here? You have the shower after the baby is born…so then everyone gets to meet the baby at once, hold them, pray over and bless them! It’s definitely a concept I may adopt one day, Lord-willing. 😉

Sunday was church with my host family. It’s a full morning affair because they’re all so involved with the church. After Sunday school with the youth praise team, Sally (host sis) and I went to the youth service. After praise and some announcements, they had intercessory prayer. It simply means in groups of 2, 3 or 4 with those around you, you tell one another a prayer request and pray for it right then. It may be hard to incorporate in a larger church, but how awesome would this be if “smaller” churches or youth groups did this on a regular basis?? It doesn’t have to take long at all, a few minutes for seat neighbors to get to know each other on a deeper level.

I have felt so encouraged to continue hearing from friends and loved ones in the US and elsewhere who are praying for and thinking of me. Your love and concern is my fuel when it seems I’m not cut out for this work…when the enemy or my own self-doubt would distract me from God’s purpose. Thank you for being Jesus to me in this way!

There is great need, but we serve a GREAT God! I have met some phenomenal people already, and made potential connections to link the work I’m doing with CCP and FTB to willing and able Kenyans. I’d love to tell you more if you’re interested…it’s pretty cool. 🙂

I have been focused on Ephesians 3:12 this week: “In Him and through faith in Christ, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Be bold in your prayers and PRAY continuously!!

stay lovely,
kelli

 

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

A Handful of L.A. Adventures

It’s been an exhilarating 7 months living in Los Angeles. When I scroll through the photos of memories and moments with these new California friends, I’m filled with a gratitude and nostalgia for everything I’ve been blessed to experience.

SAN DIEGO

Just two yogi’s from Cedar Rapids, Iowa who answered the call on their hearts to move to Southern California!

REDONDO BEACH

Exploring with cousin Jason and his fiancé Kai.

LAGUNA BEACH

When your favorite volleyball coach is in town, you make the drive to see her and her mom and lounge for the day at Laguna Beach. 🙂

SNAPCHAT’S SUMMER TWILIGHT CONCERT SERIES

This night will always be one of my highlights of Summer 2016 in Los Angeles! Snapchat hosts a concert series on Santa Monica Pier over the summer, and IT IS LIT. The Snapchat ghost was walking around, so I automatically sprinted over to dance with it and get all the pictures. The fun people in the photo are all amazing, driven, awe-inspiring world-travelers I’m blessed to call friends! With the Snapchat ghost from left is Sofiane, sassy Frenchman, Eddie, punny North Carolinian, and Mel, feisty New Yorker.

DISNEYLAND

Sweet Aunt Renee took me with her to Disneyland for a very full day of rides, Princess meetings (mostly on my end, I had to see them all!), and emotional parade and firework shows!

HIKE TO HOLLYWOOD SIGN

It was a must!

BONFIRE ON THE BEACH

Another highlight of Summer 2016! Sorry for doubting your bonfire-building skills, Sofiane. It was lit.;)

SURFING (& SAIRA IN TOWN!!)

BUCKET LIST ITEM #1 WAS COMPLETED THAT DAY. But I’m definitely not done there! It was a blast experiencing this with such an amazing friend, Saira, who came all the way from West Virginia to see me and of course California!

SQUAD. ALL THE SQUAD PICS.

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE HUMANS!!!

CCV COLLEGE GROUP CAMP AT CARPINTERIA STATE BEACH

God nudged me to just go to the camp, even though I only knew a couple people. Well, that changed quickly because CCV peeps are amazing and so welcoming. I love this church family.:)

MIXMAG

BOAT PARTY

Another highlight! Eddie is the hookup for amazing events!! Always a blast with you!

SANTA MONICA BEACH

BAE’S

MY B’S!! Bridget and Bekah, where would I be without you two?! Love you baesics!

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

 

Thanks for scrolling through! Always remember to reflect on how beautiful this life is…we get caught up in a comparison game and it sucks the joy out of our own blessings. Please understand this is a highlight reel, and in no way is my life or anyone else’s rainbows and puppies and smiles all the time. It’s a journey of ups and downs, and finding joy in Christ even in the downs is the ultimate goal of it all.

Wishing you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION and FANTASTIC 2017!!!

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

 

 

Dear Bob & Patti,

I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you goofballs.

Dad, you Facebook message me cat videos and insane political stories every day, and I LOVE it. You keep me current.

Mom, I live off of the pins you send me via Pinterest, and your random Snapchats because you haven’t quite figured out how to use this simplest of social media platforms cracks me up every time.

Dad, I can’t keep up with all the networking connections you send my way! And when I reflect back on the amazing opportunities God has blessed me with, it started with your ridiculous boldness to meet anyone and everyone and proceed to tell them about your writer/actress/singer/lawyer/doctor/journalist/astrophysicist daughter (by the way, I’m none of these things!).

Mom, it blows my mind how two souls can be so similar and understand one another and even sync missing each other at the same time from 2,000 miles away. You gave me this travel bug, though, so it’s really your fault.:P Truth is, sometimes I just crave a Mom hug. I live for our dance sesh’s in the kitchen to “You’re So Beautiful”.

Watching you two as I’ve grown has deepened my faith and resolve to live my life with purpose. You have modeled a marriage founded on Christ for 28 years for me and those around you. That is an absolutely priceless gift you’ve given to the world.

Thank you for loving and living so well. I appreciate you, Bob and Patti, your hearts, your quirks, your Netflix binges that rival any college student, and your walks with Christ.

Oh, and happy belated Anniversary, you lovebirds, you.

stay lovely,
the tall girl

p.s. take the time right now to write a letter to someone you appreciate.

 

Awakening the Love of Heritage

There are certain places on this earth that as soon as you experience the sights, smells, and sounds, you’ve fallen in love and could return seasonally. Well, I discovered another one of my “happy places” this past week up in Door County, Wisconsin. Continue reading “Awakening the Love of Heritage”