Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Visit to the slums.

Today we went to a slum to do medical work and spend time with the children. When I say slum, I really mean it. I thought I had experienced this before, but this was quite overwhelming. Families were living in small shacks made of whatever they could find essentially. Kids and adults alike run around barefoot. Flies swarm you wherever you go. In the midst of this, my sleeping troubles (which thankfully have not been accompanied by much anxiety) seemed quite miniscule. Families of six sleep on a rocky dirt floor and suddenly I felt grossly over privileged. I am also amazed, yet again, by the God we serve. Here are kids with next to nothing with more joy than I can muster most days. I always seek to find joy in ALL circumstances, which is only possible through Christ. But if these were my circumstances, would I be so quick to find joy? Yesterday pain, poverty, and disease stared me in the face, but so did joy, laughter, and the Lord's faithfulness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

4 Days.

4 days 1 hour 35 minutes. 

My countdown is telling me that's how much time I have until mama and I are boarding our first plane on our long journey to SE Asia. Our bags are packed (more or less) and we're ready to go! Holy buckets. That's so so exciting, but if I'm being honest, that also terrifies me a little. Life has seemed to be a giant checklist lately: 
  • Graduate
  • Pass Boards
  • Move my stuff to Sioux Falls
  • Go to India
  • Start my new job (only 36 hours after I land in the States)
And this checklist has made me feel like life is moving at about 100mph. In the midst of this all I also have been trying to spend as much time with the people I love most because I know when I get back from India things will be different. Yeah, yeah...Sioux Falls is only an hour away but that's still different. I'll live 100% on my own, have to cook for myself all the time, figure out things like insurance and banking and all that weird grown up stuff, and I'll be an actual real life RN. This is weird and so incredibly exciting and a little nerve-racking. In these whirlwind moments I'm oh so thankful to serve a God who knows so much better than I do and promises to never leave my side- even in the, "Jesus, I really have no idea what I'm doing." moments. (no matter how old you get, do those moments ever go away?)

Anyway, back to the trip. The thought of going back brings tears to my eyes because I'm so excited. This place has had a huge impact on shaping who I am today. Its given me so many of my passions that have carried over to the States too. Seeing Jesus in the brokenness is one of the things I love most in this whole world and I cannot wait to be back. But with that, I'm also nervous. I know it won't be the same because it's a different time with different people, and I've tried to prepare my heart for that. Phil Wickham's song All I Am says, 

"Take these hands I know they're empty
But with you they can be used for beauty in your perfect Plan
All I am is Yours

Take these feet, I know they stumble,
But You use the weak, You use the humble,
So, please use me.
All I am is yours.

I give You all my life, I'm letting it go, 
a living sacrifice, no longer my own.
All I am is Yours.

Take this heart, set it on fire.
Shine it in the dark. I wanna tell the world of who you are.
All I am is Yours."

I'm not sure if I could sum up my feelings better. My hands feel empty, and my feet stumble but the Lord's grace covers that. He goes before me and has a plan. In Ephesians 3 Paul said he was the least of all God's saints, but was called through the Lord's grace. I feel a little like Paul..God can use my brokenness, unpreparedness, and anxiety all for His glory. Don't we serve an awesome God? 

I'll do my best to keep y'all updated on here throughout and after my trip. Also, if you could say a prayer for mom and I to stay healthy that would be great. I've decided to get a nasty cold now of all times. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

With actions and in truth.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:17-18

   I'm a little (or a lot) behind on life here, but this summer mom and I are returning to SE Asia to work with sex-trafficking victims. My mama's my best friend and for years we've dreamed of going on a trip together. After much thought and prayer this trip landed us 8,000 miles away for three weeks between me taking boards and moving/starting a new job. A lot of people don't quite understand why we've decided to spend our time in a poverty stricken country instead of sitting on a beach relaxing for a week, but the above verses were said in church this morning and I think they sum it up pretty well for me.
   I've seen my brothers and sisters in need and how can I not love them? I've seen brokenness, poverty, and injustice and my hearts been completely shattered. I've also seen hope, restoration, and justice though and the Lord's put a burning passion in my heart to see these things overcome the brokenness, poverty, and injustice. And the way the Lord does this is extremely complicated, but also incredibly simple. He calls broken, sinful people like mama and myself to love with actions and in truth. He equips us to love well, through the love we've been given. So that's why we're flying over 26 hours for three weeks only to be sleep deprived and culture-shocked and home-sick, but also to pour out Christ's love, to see the Kingdom grow, to be challenged, and to witness the hope overcome injustice. 

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dressember day 31.

December 31, 2014. 
This not only means that tomorrow begins a new year, but it also means that tomorrow I can wake up and put on jeans or sweatpants instead of deciding which dress I want to wear for the umpteenth time. It's a really strange feeling actually, and part of me is sad. Dressember has been such a good experience in so many ways for me. I've continually been reminded of the redemption we find in Christ. I've found joy in seeing others participating and finding new passions. I've been thankful each and every day when I do put on a dress and am reminded of the life-giving freedom I have found in my Savior. The other day a friend of mine was watching a documentary on sex-trafficking and asked, "Kelsey, how am I suppose to relate to these women?" And I couldn't really give an answer because we can't- I've lived a pretty freaking privileged life. I complain about putting on a dress while women around the world are sitting on a stained bed in tattered rags. I complain when my legs are cold through my tights while women are forced to stay outside at truck-stops waiting for customers to strip them of their dignity. I complain about wearing a dress for 31 days in a row..but you know what? Most days I felt truly beautiful, loved,and supported while millions of women have never felt beautiful but instead feel used and unworthy of love. This oppression is normal for many women and that's what struck me most this December. One day I picked out my dress and thought about how putting a dress on each morning was becoming normal, and suddenly I was HORRIFIED. For so many women, enslaved in trafficking or not, oppression is normal. Feeling unloved and unworthy is normal. Abuse is expected. Being raped up to 40 times a day is normal. Many women in trafficking don't know another reality and therefore don't even self-identify as victims. This makes me hurt. It literally makes me sick. Each women is a beloved daughter of the King, relentlessly pursued by their maker, and should be treated as such. This is why I fight. I fight so love, joy, and beauty will be normal for women around the world instead of abuse, oppression, and hopelessness. 

Dressember is about embracing femininity, standing up for the oppressed and enslaved, and fighting for women everywhere to feel beautiful and be free. I've been blessed to take a stand with thousands of others around the world but it doesn't end today. Keep praying. Keep learning. Keep having those tough conversations, and keep fighting for the voiceless.  

Isaiah 58:10-11
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
 with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and spend yourself in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
  then your light will rise in the darkness,
 and your night will become like the noonday. 
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land 
and will strengthen your frame." 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All oppression shall cease.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices! 

O night divine, O night when Christ was born; 
O night divine, O night, O night Divine. 

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; 
And in His name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
Let all within us praise His holy name. 

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices! 
O night divine, O night when Christ was born; 
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

I have heard this song hundreds of times before. I've grown up singing it each December, and yet it took on a whole new meaning to me this year. It's been my favorite Christmas song for years, and once again I was reminded why. Those lyrics in red? Yeah. They're awesome. Read them again. He taught us to love. Jesus Christ is love and peace even in the midst of our chaotic and broken world. And this unfathomable love will one day break all chains. In HIS name, all oppression shall cease and this folks, is why I'm participating in Dressember. I'm participating because the slave is my brother or sister and I wish to see a world in which all oppression ceases in the name of our risen Savior.

The problem is big and the injustice is overwhelming, but the hope is immense too. The work of ending trafficking is often tiresome and tedious, but one moment can give hope for a lifetime. Every time that injustice seems to swallow me whole, I remember those moments. I remember sitting on the floor next to a beloved thirty-something year old who had endured trafficking for SEVEN YEARS and I see her paint "God is love" in watercolor. I hear her say those same words in her broken English. After seven years of injustice, Jesus Christ broke the chains in her life and his love prevailed. I remember walking into the center, seeing a shy woman with a large scar of her chest huddled in the corner and sitting down next to her. She grabbed my hand and never let go. Those are moments I will never forget and those are moments that give me hope. I see love, I see chains breaking, and I see oppression ending. Those are moments I see Jesus.

Merry Christmas! I hope you're able to rejoice in Emmanuel- God with us.