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?

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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

 

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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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

 

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

 

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

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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

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

 

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

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

 

Thrifty Hacks for Exploring L.A.

For lack of a better term, we’ll say I’m thrifty. All about the deals, clearance racks, thrift stores, packing a lunch for on-the-go, etc.

L.A. is not a cheap place to live, but that makes finding affordable, fun things to do a constantly changing and challenging adventure!

I wanted to help out my fellow L.A. explorers by putting together a list of unique things to do besides just “Day at the Beach” or “Celebrity Hunting” in Hollywood (which would be a major disappointment, ‘cus you won’t see anyone there.)

Happy exploring!

Los Angeles

Check out LAWeekly for great food trucks.

One of many lists you’ll find on flea markets in the L.A. area.

The Downtown Art Walk should already be in your planner for the second Thursday of the month.

Jazz Night is waiting for you! 6PM every Friday in the summer.

stay lovely (& thrifty!),
the tall girl