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

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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

 

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

 

 

 

When I…

When I compare my raw, behind-the-scenes life to others’ social media highlight reel, I have to force myself to take a step back, breathe, and remember life is messy and beautiful…for everyone.

When I’m tempted to feel down for not having achieved “enough” thus far, I remind myself of the victories I have had (and there is still so much ahead!).

When I look around and self-criticize for not being like others in whatever aspect I’m feeling insecure about that day, I look up and remember He made me exactly as He wanted me to be in His perfect plan and He is continually perfecting me.

When I people-please and then feel empty when I perceive they haven’t accepted me, I rest in knowing God’s acceptance is all that matters because human opinion will always be petty and changing.

When I haven’t posted a blog for months and feel like I’ll never be inspired to write ever again, I give myself grace and crank something out that was laid on my heart over the past few days!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

How To Justify a Backpacking Adventure

Being home in Iowa before jet-setting off has been wonderful to reconnect with people. So many questions have been raised though about the nature of my trip: why am I doing it now, how can I afford it, what about a job? I won’t name any names as to who’s asked these questions, but we’ll give the main culprit the alias of ‘mom and dad’.

I’m not going to lie, there are moments where I seriously question my sanity for wanting to rough it for over 3 months with one backpack of belongings around foreign countries of which I don’t speak the language. I’ll be stinky and bruised and in bad need of a pedicure by the end of it.

But once I calm down from the mini wave of anxiety I realize, why not now?

Health

As I was packing for my upcoming journey, rationalizing it in my mind, I had a flashback to three summers ago hobbling around Phoenix, AZ and San José, Costa Rica (CCU basketball mission trip) in a big ol’ boot on my left leg after bunion surgery. If I was injured, I wouldn’t be able to do this trip.

God has blessed me with physical strength (for the most part, though I definitely feel the years of sports in my knees and hips…gosh, I’m getting old!) and the mental capacity to figure things out in new places.

I don’t know what my health will be like at any point in the future, I only know I’m able now. And tomorrow is promised to no one.

Money

I’m a college graduate. I’m not rich. But I’m a college graduate. So I’m thrifty and a major saver! I started making travel plans halfway through my Sophomore year, and I’ve been saving my little paychecks from Centennial Institute, babysitting, and graduation money like nobodies business.

I have the Goldilocks mindset about my money for this trip: I don’t have too little that I’ll be calling home two weeks in that I blew it all and need them to buy my return flight; I don’t have so much that I’ll be staying in 5-star hotels and resorts and going on behind-the-scene tours at the major sites.

I have just enough for transportation costs within the various countries I’m going too, food, and sightseeing costs. Thought I missed the part about lodging? I didn’t. I’ll be staying with Workaway families, couchsurfing, friends or connections I have over there, and maybe cheap youth hostels when I feel like splurging.

Job

I love explaining this one, probably because it’s kept me up at night the most! It’s the most common question I receive: What about a job? Well, what about it? Any job that God has lined up for me in his will is going to be there when I’m back in November.

On top of that, the experiences and skills I’m going to have because of these months abroad will set me up for exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Most college graduates go straight into their career, and all happiness to them. My resumé will be set apart because I did something unique, out of the ordinary, and risky.

Fear

There’s a healthy enough amount of it that I’m not going to jump into someone’s van offering me a free ride from the airport.

The concept I’ve been pondering is that God is still God and still in charge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as He is in Athens, Rome, or Paris. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

As confident as I am that this is what God has for me right now, prayers are still so appreciated as I venture out! And if you’re considering any traveling coming up, just do it. Life is short, spend money on experiences not things, and for good measure I’ll leave you with the classic “Carpe diem” or in the millenial’s words, YOLO (you only live once). So get going, people. There’s a big, wide world just waiting to be explored by you.

stay lovely, and have a grand adventure today,
the tall girl