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

Reflections of Christ

I am on the receiving end of short-term mission trips. Now, I am the host for these energetic teenagers seeing the other side of the world for the first time in a 2-week intensive experience. And wow, what a joy they are!!

I’ve heard all the arguments about the danger of short-term mission trips and I’ve even felt the guilt about going on them myself. I wondered if I was just taking work away from the locals or imposing on their system that works quicker without my interruption. I wondered if the money I was raising to go would be better used if I just wrote them a check. But now that I am on the side of the host country with mission teams visiting “my people” and these kiddo’s, I can honestly say they are so needed for our health and vitality as individuals and as an organization. It’s not always about the money or “getting the job done”; we live for relationship, and the ones we make with our visiting friends breathe new life into our spirits.

For me, the first week and a half of life in Nairobi were full of change, questions responded to with ambiguous answers leading to even more doubt, and numbness. I hoped it would improve with time since I am committed to a year, but God wanted to show up quickly so He could show off!

Cue the arrival of 10 hyper high schoolers and their 3 amazing chaperones, as well as the sweet Simply2Love team of 4 ladies! Over 11 days, we all became close friends, and I’m so happy to have 17 new friends praying and supporting CCP from California. It makes a HUGE difference to see the faces in our context who have said they support us. Their actions speak loud; they stepped out in faith to raise support and leave their families and friends for 2 weeks to do life with us in Nairobi! We laughed and cried and sang and danced together! We kissed giraffes, bounced along a 6-hour bus detour (a trip that should have been just 2 hours) through the African bush, were cornered by stampedes of orphan elephants, prayed over the sweet kiddo’s of CCP and their families, and ate A LOT of chapati!

Christ heard me in my loneliness, and He sent 17 reflections of Himself to refresh my heart and soul! I have no doubt in my mind now for the need of short-term mission teams. As long as the visitors are seeking God’s will and supporting the host organization with excited and humbled spirits, they are absolutely a help to us. Let this be encouragement to you as you consider going on a mission trip yourself or supporting someone else who is going!

living loved,
kelli klaus

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kenya Believe It?

Is the day finally here?! Is it already time to go?!

I’ve been praying over and hoping for this since early December of last year. God’s timing is always perfect as we know…but often forget since we like to take matters into our own hands and think we know exactly when everything should happen.

If I’d had my way, I would have been on a plane first thing after Christmas back to Kenya to serve with Chosen Children of Promise in the Kawangware slum. As it would happen, God had me stay a few more months to pray, fast, and grow our relationship before moving to Africa all gun-ho without a clue. I still don’t have a clue, but it’s a better place to be of acknowledging that than naively assuming I know exactly what I’m walking into. I’m in a new place of surrender and dependence on God. He is my validation. He is my affirmation. And as He “…comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) Amen!!! I have tasted and seen and felt and received. What a joy to live loved by Jesus and to be an overflowing bucket of His love spilling out to others! 

I pray to walk into each day with that image and mindset. On the days when it’s a little harder to do that, I’ll follow the wise advice of a dear missionary friend: pray. When it’s sad, pray; when it’s hard, pray; when you’re tired, pray; when you’re homesick, pray.

Thank you for joining this journey with me! Thank you Jesus for the call and your reckless love.

Now I need to go catch a flight!! 😉

live loved,
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

 

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!!

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

 

 

Mistaking Happiness for Home

Forgive me this intro that sounds more like a bad start to an infomercial, but I have to ask, have you ever felt unsettled? Discontent? Like some purpose you should be filling isn’t being lived out?

I’m curious because it’s how I’ve felt lately. Despite the adventures and blessings that surround me, there’s still an underlying sense that there should be more. I seek and seek and seek some more for this “settled happiness and security” that keeps evading me. 

I realized an important difference this week in how to view that sense of more. The world says becoming the best possible version of yourself, achieving that lifelong dream, or making a renowned name for yourself are the keys to unlocking your full potential and that more for you. As if it could be reached if we strive enough.

But what if accepting that more can not and will not be reached on this temporal earth is the true release from the unsettled, discontent, purposeless fear we’re feeling? Maybe the greatest freedom will be found…

Read over this C.S. Lewis quote at least twice.

“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God…Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

(Read it again! Gah, it’s sooo good and on point!)

Let us never mistake this world for home. He allows fun and merriment, and glimpses of what we were created for/what we will be returning to one day, but we can also accept that on earth we’ll never feel constant, settled happiness and security!

That will only be depressing to the one who doesn’t have an active hope in God. As a believer in God’s omniscience, He knows best for me, for you, and for our mindsets. He allows that sense of unsettledness, with peeks into happiness and security, like short stays at an inn, so we get a taste of what eternity will be like.

I realized this week and after reading this Lewis quote to accept that more will only be glimpsed and not wholly reached in this life. I must trust Him in the waiting; believe the discontentment has its purpose; and return my gaze to Him when it starts wandering to the securities of this world as my identity.

I hope this encourages you or touches a part of your life as it did for me. Please share any thoughts or questions in the comment section below!

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

 

 

 

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.