Friday, December 31, 2010

2010... the year I grew up

When I talk to most people, they think that I'm at least a couple of years older than I really am. Well, I may look and even sometimes act the part, but honestly I still feel like I'm back in high school most of the time trying to find out who I am. Well, 2010 was quite possibly the most intense year of growing up that I can remember both in the relational and spiritual sense.

It began with me back in the States, assuming what life for the next year would look like. I spent the beginning two months enjoying time with my family, getting vision for future ministry, and understanding more about my place in the body of Christ. As I got back to Uganda, things began to set in motion for an intense season of change. I enjoyed a couple of really cool somewhat stable months, where I kind of feel like God was maybe preparing me for what was to come the second half of the year. Right before my birthday in June, we had a couple of huge events here at the church and with that, the chaos that would be my life for the remainder of the year began to ensue. Right after my birthday, I knew that I was getting very close to what would be known as the most difficult season of my life and so I escaped to a place called Sipi Falls to kind of get my eyes focused on God before everything started to really happen. After I got back, it seriously was almost an instantaneous "Wham!". Friends left, a foot got broken, more friends left, I was flying solo running the show here, new friends came as still more left. I took a couple of trips that instead of being times of relaxation and escape segwayed into even more intense times of breaking and maturing. I've had to deal with people around me going through incredibly difficult situations, things that I'd previously been shielded from in my short 24 years. I lost two grandmas and nearly lost one of my closest friends. And to kind of put a nice layer of icing on the "breaking" cake, I ended the year with yet another cast.

I'm not saying these things to complain or to try and get sympathy, but actually to testify about God's grace. You read about Paul, and all he endured for the sake of the Gospel and just for God to make him into the minister that he was and it wasn't easy, but it was all to God's glory as the end result was a man that is one of the most influential personalities in Christianity. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no Paul. But through these times of breaking, I've definitely learned what Paul meant by how we can see God's strength the most in our times of unimaginable weakness. God has grown me up both in the ways of life as well as in the ways of Him through all these things. Yes, I had my fair share of pity parties, No, I don't have it all figured out yet and have definitely not achieved perfection. I don't know what 2011 will bring. I can tell you right now though that I'm anticipating another year of intense changes and continued breaking, but little by little God teaches me and reminds me that He is with me through all the heartaches, chaos, and pain that is still yet to come.

As I stand at the doorstep of this new year, I think the best way to communicate what I hope for and ask from all of you is a quote by St. Augustine, "Once you have learnt what I am, pray that I fall not away, but be perfected" and that I would NEVER take my eyes off of Him no matter what comes my way in 2011.

Another cast saga

So two weeks ago when I first got my cast, the "doctor" told me that it would only need to stay on for two weeks and to come back on the 31st to get it off (which I might add is two days over two weeks). Knowing how things work here, I called him yesterday (yes, I called the ortho guy directly) and asked him when I could meet with him so he could remove my cast. He told me that he was on his way to Kampala but would be available tomorrow (today) and that he would see me at nine. Ok, cool, I thought it was fairly safe to bank on that assurance that he would be there at nine and my cast would come off... well, as we say here "it's never easy". I got to the clinic at around 8:55 and waited in the waiting room... 9:15 then rolled around and I asked another dr how long I should wait before I tried to call the guy since there is a reason why it's called "African time". Then came 9:30, that's when the phone calls started, and lo and behold he didn't answer. I proceded to wait and call for the next fifteen minutes before deciding to progress with the rest of my day and hope that I or the clinic staff would get through to him. I get home at about 11:30 and still no word from the guy and the cast was still on my hand, two and a half hours after I had thought I would be cast free. By this time, I was livid. The guy already had some of the worst "bedside manner" I've ever encountered but I still had hope. After Jess and Bev heard me unload about how upset I was that I still had the cast on, I waited another hour to try and find another solution, and finally Bev put me out of my misery. I put my arm out on the kitchen counter and Bev took out the kitchen shears and her exacto knife and began going to town. Little by little the cast was being chiseled away and finally we decided to try and soak it. I won't lie, I felt like a bit of a rebel getting a cast wet which as we all know is the number one cardinal rule of having a cast about not getting water on it. Soon, the plaster softened and Bev was able to cut through it "like butta" and all I can say is "FREEDOM". It was only two weeks, but it felt like forever, and I'm just so relieved to be back to "normal" again. I have been dared to not get hurt (no casts, x rays, pain meds, severe bleeding, etc..) for four months...haha we'll see. Time will only tell if 2011 will be as "exciting" as the last half of 2010 was.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Casting the vision

Every school holiday, our youth group either organizes or attends what we call a youth conference. And in two weeks and one day, it will be time yet again to put on the event where youth swarm our campus, attend several Bible studies, have small group time, play games and consume large sums of food. I have to admit I was struggling with grasping the real vision for this conference and although we've been talking about it for a couple of months now, it's finally upon us. Last night though, was one of those nights of just awesome inspiration and the ideas just kept coming. I've known for about a month now that I wanted the main theme of the conference to circle around the book of Nehemiah, but that's where the ideas stopped. Last night though, God just opened my eyes to some really cool things and I just pray that I can effectively implement them, which I know is possible if I rest on Him alone.

Our little youth group here at Calvary Chapel Jinja has been going through a difficult year and basically we've lost two youth pastors in the past twelve months. To go along with the wall idea of Nehemiah, we're pretty much crumbling and are in desperate need of rebuilding and just re-igniting the passion within the group for both ministry and their personal walks with God. And last night I realized that the usual format of inviting as many youth as possible from all over Uganda maybe wasn't the best plan for this conference and that for this one we needed to intentionally and powerfully pour into the kids of this church for the three day conference.

I'm so excited because Nehemiah is just so perfect for what our youth group needs to get back to. There are going to be seven teaching sessions: 1) Heart breaking over the condition of the "wall", 2) The importance of prayer, 3) The importance of unity, selflessness, and working together, 4) The reality of spiritual attack and how to deal with it, 5) The place God's Word should have in our lives, 6) The importance of worship, and 7) The importance of holy living (I'm still working on the right phrasing for the titles). But really I'm just super stoked because I've been at such a loss about what to do with our youth group and how to get us back to where we need to be and it looks like this could help.

The main reason why I'm writing this and kind of casting this vision is because I/we desperately need prayers for this event. Please pray for the details (weather, food, supplies, the electricity to stay, etc....); the speakers (that they would effectively communicate the message God wants the students to hear); the small group leaders (they would have wisdom to answer questions and counsel the kids and apply the teachings); for the quiet times (that the students would focus and glean much from that time); for the worship (that the kids would truly learn what it means to fall on their knees before His throne); and for me that I would allow God to be in control, that I would trust in His strength and not mine, and that I would take the time to "be about the better thing".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My parents...

I have said several times that I am blessed beyond all belief with the family God has given me and honestly, this is just kind of a cry out from the rooftops about how amazing my family is, and specifically my parents. My parents have been married for almost 27 years and they still love each other so much. My dad wakes up super early to make my mommy breakfast before she has to go to work, he randomly brings her flowers still after all these years, for special events he always tries to spoil her, my mommy would do anything for my daddy and she has, and above all that, I can NEVER remember a time when my parents went to bed angry at each other and they seriously are still each other's best friend. I used to take their relationship for granted, but now as I grow up and see how other married couples are, I realize just how fortunate I am to have the best example of what marriage should be like with my parents. I know this may seem random and a little on the personal side, but I guess this just stems from me missing them so much it hurts right now, and just thinking about how special our little family is. For those of you in the ABQ area, if you see my parents, please just give them a hug for me... because they really are pretty much amazing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

To Save a Life

Is your life, faith, ministry just a set of meaningless motions? Do you merely call yourself a Christian or do you live like Christ? Do you get so busy doing the “work” of the ministry that you forget the people you’re supposed to minister to? Do you take the command to love your neighbor with the stipulation that you’ll show that unconditional love as long as someone is of the same grade, sport, clique, or socio-economic class?

I just finished watching the movie, "To Save a Life", and let's just say it challenged me big time. This movie is a sobering reminder of a couple big things: 1) How you treat others does matter, 2) in youth ministry we can get in huge ruts that can have heartbreaking consequences, 3) Everyone deserves and needs to be loved.

How you treat others does matter. There's the saying that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". That could not be less true. What you say has the potential to make or break someone's day. Sometimes though, the absence of words can do just as much damage. When we ignore people, even unknowingly, it's painful. Making other things/people come before the person in front of you can devastate someone who may just need a friend at that time. Think right now if you were to be treated/talked to in the same manner you treat/talk to others... as some of do that, we may be getting a bit of a pit in our stomachs.

In youth ministry we can get in huge ruts that can have heartbreaking consequences. Ministering to youth, you are constantly surrounded by hurting kids, whether you know it or not. Middle school and high school are all about trying to find your place in the world and who you are and it could be the loneliest time of someone's life. In this movie, the youth pastor goes to talk to this kid with the question all youth leaders have said countless times, "What school do you go to?" - I don't know why but when he asked that question to the kid who would later commit suicide, it took my breath away. We ask the ice breaker questions, we play games, have fun music, and big events, but what does that accomplish if kids don't walk away feeling loved, challenged, encouraged, and poured into? The youth group in the movie had a blast with all the "extras" but then they were missing the meat - living their faith in school and even with people in the youth group. You hear all the time that the church is full of hypocrites, and that doesn't stop in the youth group but if we do our jobs right, it maybe could. I look at the youth group here that I kind of oversee now and honestly it makes me sick how much I've failed to "make the most of every opportunity", when it comes to these kids. I just pray that I'm not too late to minister to them the way that I should have been all along.

Everyone deserves and needs to be loved. One thing about Jesus that blows my mind is that He unconditionally loves EVERYONE. He ate with tax collectors, talked to adulteresses, ministered to prostitutes and dying thieves. Rich/poor, "sinner"/"saint", Gentile/Jew... He loved them all. Yet at school, our jobs, and even in our ministries we refrain from showing His love because, "well, they look scary", "they're too popular", "they're not popular enough", "we don't have anything in common"... that's ridiculous! Why do we in the church who profess to rejoice in Christ's unconditional love, refrain to show it to those who need it the most? Something needs to change. It's time for youth ministry to get back yo just that... ministry. Ministring selflessly, pouring ourselves out, overcoming awkwardness and excuses to show these kids tangibly the love that their Father has for them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another tough chapter

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in my little apartment with my little tree and white lights listening to Christmas music after spending the evening watching a Christmas movie. Needless to say it's been a good night, but there is one looming element that I've failed to mention, I'm typing this one handed because my other hand is in a cast (so if there are some gnarly typos, just blame it on the cast). Now, you may be asking "Kelli, did't you like JUST get your other cast off?" And you would be hasn't even been four months since I've been out of my cast that was on my foot. Six months ago I had a little retreat right after my birthday and I knew the upcoming year was going to be intense...I just had no idea how intense. Now after two casts, my grandma passing away, friends leaving, and a few other things, I can honestly say it's been the hardest six months of my life. I had mentioned that I went to Kenya a couple of weeks ago and while I was on that trip I seriously told people that I felt like another tough season was coming right as I felt I was finishing with this last one, and I must admit that has been confirmed in one huge way.

Now, you may be asking how I ended up with this newest cast...The other day, I was walking and trying to text (not a wise idea here in Uganda) and I didn't see a drainage ditch and fell pretty hard scraping up my hands and my knees, and as it turns out doing some damage on one of the tendons on my left thumb. Now, I get to be in a cast for at least the next two weeks.

I wish I could tell you that I'm "rejoicing always", "counting it all joy", etc... but honestly, I've very much struggled with having a good attitude through this latest trial. Believe me, I know God is using this to make me into the servant he desires me to be, but I've already caught myself saying "God. Seriously?!" And things continue to be coming up that are just adding to the difficulty of trying to not allow myself to wallow in self pity. I feel bad because my friends, family, and all of you who read this blog have heard me whine about this killer season of breaking and honestly, a lot of me doesn't even want to talk about it anymore because I figure people have enough on their plates than to hear me gripe about yet another hurdle, I guess though that's why I'm just putting it out here to just humbly ask for your prayers that I would glorify God even in the trials, especially with my attitude. Nights are the worst because the loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness seems to get magnified exponentially.

So needless to say I need a lot of prayer right now: my focus, perseverance, attitude, for Him to increase my faith, to learn what I need to, and that during this Christmas season I would be reminded that life is not about me, but it's about Him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


“I was without happiness for this life, and without hope for the next.”

It’s funny how you could read all sorts of deep and intellectual books but then the simplest of statements are what stop you in your tracks. I’m reading an awesome book right now on the Cross and in it gave the above statement from a man who used to be an agnostic who then had gotten saved. It so simply yet powerfully stated what I know many (even some who are reading this right now) people feel right now. This, in a sentence, describes the unbeliever who doesn’t know the awesome thing that it is to have a true RELATIONSHIP with Christ.

If this sentence could describe you right now when you really look at your life, then I humbly ask you to surrender to Him and call upon Him as your Lord and Savior. He’s not some bully with a magnifying glass, He’s not some distant cosmic force that has no effect on our lives today, He is our God and our Savior who loved us enough to put skin on and be beaten and crucified to save us so we could be with Him.

This is a season filled with talk of trees, snow, presents, family gatherings, and many people have little or no relationship with the One who the season was originally meant to celebrate. This is a time that’s not just about the manger, but the cross, and even more so the empty tomb. He was born to die so we could have life.

I realize this post is a little (or a lot) on the “preachy” side... but you can blame it on my day job :). This is written from love and God breaking my heart for those who don’t truly know Him. It’s not from a judgmental, finger pointing view point merely a plea to whoever out there who may come upon this would desire to have the sentence that began this post to truly have the word “WAS” in it. In Him we can have joy, know HIs unconditional love and have that beautiful little word...hope.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A random pondering

Have you ever looked back at your life and it doesn’t seem like it was really your life? That those things never really happened? Those things, events, and people seem more like a dream rather than something that actually took place? That’s kind of what I’ve been feeling like lately as I look back at the chapters in my rather short 24 years of life. Thinking of birthday parties, field trips, vacations, surgeries, heart breaks, ministries, jobs, apartments, mission trips, classes, weddings, funerals, conversations, even friends… all of them individually seemed to be things that were earth shattering, life changing things but now I can barely remember any of the details. I guess that goes to show us that the things that seem that way are just small parts of who and what God uses to make us into the people He desires us to be. It helps to think that this life is not all there is. That eternity is so much more than what we get cards, presents, or coffee dates for. I’m so glad that I can have rest in the hope of something more than what I can touch, see, talk to is awaiting me after I’ve lived another 50 years or so (if He does not tarry).

Warren Weirsbe got it right when he said,
"The trials of life are not all alike; they are like variegated yarn that the weaver uses to make a beautiful rug. God arranges and mixes the colors of experiences of life . The final product is a beautiful thing for His glory."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seeing the light

Blogs are a funny thing… some people use them as somewhat of a newsletter, others a journal, and to for me it’s kind of a menagerie of synopsis of events, thoughts, struggles, etc… I haven’t written truly in some time, because well honestly, I have issues trying to make sense of everything in my own mind let alone trying to put it down to express it to others. I continue writing about seasons, storms, and the struggles I’ve been facing lately and honestly maybe some of why I’ve stopped writing is because nothing had really changed. The last blog that I posted with that poem couldn’t be more apropos considering what had comprised my existence as of late.

For those of you who are Bible teachers, you can understand when I say that everywhere I look, I tend to think in illustrations. I have just gotten back from a trip to Kenya and part of that time I was able to spend looking at the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. And while doing so, I couldn’t help but think that the ocean was rather synonymous with my future. To me, the ocean is big, full of unexpected things, some of them beautiful, some of them that could cause you pain, and some beautiful things that also cause pain. It’s full of unknowns, you fear getting swept away, and being pulled under… but in the grand scheme of it all as you look at it, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. As I said, that’s basically my way to summarize my outlook on my future. I have absolutely no idea what God’s going to bring in this upcoming year. I know there will be things that hurt, but at the same time there will be things that make life a little more beautiful. I’m afraid that I’ll be swept away, but I also know that I have God’s promises of how He’s with me through it all and in the end I will hopefully be found, “perfect and complete lacking nothing”. And really, in the end, I know that when I look back on my life, if I allow God to be the one in control, it too will be a beautiful thing that God will use for His glory.

Another thing that I’ve come to understand continues along the lines of storms. It had been raining pretty non-stop these past couple of days, and it seriously was kind of a tangible depiction of what was going on in me, especially this week. But with the darkness and the rain, there’s also the reassurance that it won’t last forever and just as the clouds parted and the sunshine came through, the same thing happened with a majority of what’s been causing a lot of my pain lately.

Hopefully now, you’ll get to read a little more uplifting posts from me, but really I guess this is life. We all experience trials, heart break, confusion, and that’s no different when you’re on the mission field. Another thing that doesn’t change is that we have a heavenly Father who loves us, carries us, and as we’re getting battered by the storms, he’s there to clean us up. Last night in the middle of a rather sleepless night, I listened to a podcast and in the middle of it there was a quote about how God isn’t about pampering us, but about perfecting us and that doesn’t happen if you’re constantly on “calm seas”. Oh how I pray that I would remember the lessons He has taught me through this turbulent but precious time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An awesome little poem

Over these past couple of weeks, I've continued to be in a rather introspective mood, and there will be more posts detailing some of those thoughts and revelations, but for now, I'm going to give a quote that pretty much touches on some of what God's been teaching me:

As children bring their broken toys,
With tears for us to mend.
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
i hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."

Author Unknown


RSS Subscribe

    follow me on Twitter

    Blog Archive

    Copyright Text