One Year

One year ago tomorrow I boarded a plane from El Salvador to the USA for the last time, as far as I know. It was an extremely fast and completely unexpected transition. It was a shattered dream. It felt like a betrayal. It was confusing. It was so painful. It felt hopeless. But it is being redeemed day by day. I thought I would take a minute to reflect on some of the lessons that I have learned over this past year.

  1. Forgive in real time. This lesson came from a very wise woman in my life after a conversation about a month after I returned. She listened patiently as I told my story and shared my heart and then she said, “Kelly one of the most healing things you can do is learn to forgive in real time.” What she meant was that when all of the memories and accusations and conversations start playing in my head, I can either feed them or I can diffuse them. So in those moments when I would start remembering and thinking the “how could you’s” I would forgive. Right then. In real time. It completely diffused the ugly thoughts that could easily become sin. For awhile forgiving in real time was literally every five minutes. But it was very healing. And the reality is, a lack of forgiveness doesn’t hurt the person I’m not forgiving. They don’t care. They are over it. It only hurts me. One of my favorite quotes is “Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and discovering that the prisoner was you.”
  2. God works most profoundly in the midst of shattered dreams. One of my favorite verses comes from the book of Proverbs and it says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true there is life and joy.” And that’s the thing. You’ve got to wade through that hope deferred. You have to go through it, push through it, nearly drown in it sometimes. You have to do it though, because life and joy are on the other side. You have to go through it, not around it. I have seen God move so profoundly in my life this year. He has brought healing, hope when there was none, renewed my calling, taught me how to love better and deeper, given me a renewed love and desire for the Gospel…I could go on and on. Shattered dreams are neither surprising nor troublesome for God. They are his most unique canvas.
  3. Just because it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would doesn’t mean that you weren’t called to do it in the first place. Man, I struggled with this so much. Because my time in El Salvador ended so abruptly and painfully, I started doubting whether I was supposed to even go there to begin with. That’s where the enemy attacks us, isn’t it? He takes our pain and turns it into insecurity. But that’s not what God does. He used another wise woman in my life to remind me that my calling wasn’t to El Salvador or to the children of La Casa. My calling was and always is to Jesus. Wherever he takes me. She also reminded me how certain and clear my calling was to go. Not just to me but to everyone around me. My job is to obey, God’s job is everything else.
  4. Sometimes I feel like a sailboat. And that’s ok. I posted this post about a sailboat soon after I returned. Sometimes I still feel like that. Drifting, depending on a wind that doesn’t seem to come, looking for the shore, feeling like I’m talking but no one is listening. And that’s ok. The thing about sailboats is that the wind eventually picks up and that shoreline eventually shows itself. And God is always listening.
  5. Hope does not disappoint us. I didn’t really believe this until recently. More on my story of losing hope and finding it again in the next few blogs!
Posted in El Salvador, God, Life | 5 Comments

Stop Being Typical (What I Learned From My 13-Year-Old Cousin)

This past week I got to spend some one on one time with my awesome cousin, Lily. She is thirteen years old and a total sparkler. She’s full of joy, reckless abandon and kindness. I mean, look at her!


The first time we hung out we went to Starbucks for a couple of hours and just talked. It was at that point that I noticed something very unusual about teenage Lily. She had an iPhone with her (that’s normal), but the iPhone stayed in her pocket the whole time. She never brought it out except at the end when I asked her to show me some pictures of her friends. I can’t remember the last time I sat a talked with anyone who didn’t take their phone out at least once. Most people have them right next to them the whole time. I thought to myself, “It’s in her pocket, so surely she can feel it going off, but she’s still not checking it.” I was so impressed with her.

A couple of days later we went to lunch together. I thought the no phone thing was a total fluke and as waiting for her to bust it out. But she didn’t. Not once. Afterwards I mentioned how impressed I was with her and how much I appreciated it. I told her that it must be hard to feel it going off in your pocket and still not look at it. She looked at me and said, “I can’t feel it going off. I have it on Do Not Disturb.” I seriously almost passed out right there from the shock. I have honestly never felt so valued in my life. This thirteen year old gets it. Most people I know, including adults, don’t.

This whole thing reminded me of a quote from my favorite book, Love Does, by Bob Goff. He says, “When you decide to drop everything that’s typical, all that is left is just a big idea about an even bigger God and a world that’s worn out from the way everyone else has been doing it. The world has been shouting over the noise of our programs that it doesn’t need more presidents or organizations, what it needs are more friends. If you are a sincere friend, folks around you will quickly understand that there’s no hidden agenda and nothing on the other side of the equals sign—just you.” We have gotten lost in a world that has decided that the people who are sitting in front of us are not as important as the ones in our social media worlds, or our text worlds. We are so wrapped up in the people we can’t see, that we miss the people that we can.

I would encourage you to be a little more like Lily. Use that beautiful Do Not Disturb feature. Focus on the person in front of you for just a little while. Be a sincere friend. You will never regret making someone feel valuable.


Posted in What I Learned From... | Leave a comment

In the Meantime

Yesterday my pastor started a sermon series with this same title. I love that he is doing this series right now as it is exactly where I am. In the meantime. So I thought I might give a little update of what I have been doing since I left El Salvador and some plans, at least through September.

I had no plans to leave El Salvador anytime soon. In fact, when people would ask me how long I was going to be there, I would say, “As long as God has me here, but I can see myself here for a very long time.” So, needless to say, I hadn’t been thinking about what else I would like to do or a direction that God was leading me in. It was unexpected and it caused a lot of sadness and grief for me. Sadness and grief, not because I lost myself or my views of “whose” I am, but because I LOVED those kids and what I was doing down there. Those are things worth grieving. So I spent the first several weeks in what my friend called the “tourniquet stage” trying to stop the bleeding. During that time I spent time with friends and family, cried, and talked with trusted people in my life. It also included a couple of trips with my family. I also connected with an amazing counselor and have loved (and hated…haha) digging in with her. She has helped me to process the transition and it’s effects on my heart, identify things that need to be grieved, identify some habits or “vows” that I have made in my life and process what it means to live in the meantime right now. We have been discussing how ambiguity is the perfume of God. That space in between giving up and taking control is where we get a whiff of God.

One huge gift that God gave me during this time was the chance to jump back into the lives of three amazing teenage girls that I’ve been investing in for a few years. They are in a transition time from high school to college and I was grateful for the chance to walk through that with them. They are a huge gift to me and God has used them greatly in my life, but especially this summer.

So what now? For the long term, I have no idea. That is annoying to me as I am a planner and I don’t know what the plan is. But I also feel extreme peace about it. For the short term, I will be traveling quite a bit from next week through the first week of October. I was supposed to be home from August 23-Oct 1 for a five week break after team season in El Salvador. My family and I planned (and paid for) a couple of trips for my time home, so we are still planning on enjoying those trips. The first one is next week. My dad and I are headed out to Colorado to have our revenge on Mt. Elbert (which put me in the hospital a couple of years ag0). I am looking forward to five days out there with him! In September my entire family is heading to Disney World for a week. I can’t wait to experience that with all of my nieces and nephews!

And then there is something new added to the plan. My counsellor was asking me what I want to do with my “in the meantime” if I could do anything. I told her that since I have been home, I have been dreaming about taking a road trip out west. God put a very specific dream on my heart a very long time ago about a couple of states out west and I was feeling pulled out there to check it out. She asked me why I didn’t go do that and I told her that it just didn’t seem financially responsible or super safe or realistic. And she told me that she hadn’t heard a real reason that I shouldn’t do it. She’s super subtle. So for two weeks in September/October, I will be making a trip out west to Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota and I couldn’t be more excited! My goals out there are:

  1. See and enjoy beautiful pieces of creation that I have never seen before but have been dreaming about.
  2. Spend uninterrupted time with my Creater/Father/Friend in his creation dreaming, praying, and mostly listening. Getting that “whiff of God.”
  3. Meet new people.
  4. Come back with a fresh perspective on the next chapter of my life and hopefully some direction on a career path.

So that’s what is going on with me right now. I know it seems ambiguous, but I think I am finally ok with it. In this ambiguity I am finding peace, healing, and a trust in God that I haven’t known before.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment


As most of you know, I’ve been through a big and tough transition in my life recently. Many people have been asking me how I’ve been doing, and I haven’t had a great answer. It’s really hard to describe. And then I heard this song. This. This is how I am doing. Confusion. Doubt. Wondering. Wandering. Hope.

“Sailboat” by Ben Rector

I feel just like a sailboat
I don’t know where I’m headed
But you can’t make the wind blow
From a sailboat

I have seen the sun
Felt the rain on my skin
I’ve been lost and found
But mostly I’ve been waiting

Oh I’m out in the waves
I’m hoping and praying
Please let this wind blow me home
Night after night there’s an empty horizon
And my God do I feel so alone
Sometimes life, most times I, feel just like a sailboat

I’m pretty sure I’m heard
At least I know I’m speaking
But I feel like a fool
Cause I can’t hear you listening

But I’m not giving up
Oh I will move on forward
I’m gonna raise my sail
God knows what I’m headed towards

Oh I’m out in the waves
I’m hoping and praying
Please let this wind blow me home
Night after night there’s an empty horizon
And my God do I feel so alone
Sometimes life, and most times I, feel just like a sailboat

The only change I see
Lost or found, let’s see
The only difference is believing I’ll make it in

Oh I’m out in the waves
I’m hoping and praying
Please let this wind blow me home
Night after night there’s an empty horizon
My God, do I feel so alone
Sometimes life, most times I, feel just like a sailboat

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Right Beside Jesus

My six year old nephew, Cooper, had a narration assignment for school. This is what he said (documented by my sister). I thought it was worth of it’s very own blog post.


Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Dear Anna Kendrick,

Dear Anna Kendrick,

I had a dream about you the other night. Before I tell you about my dream, I feel the need to preface it with a few things. I am not crazy. I do not stalk you, google you, have posters of you in my room, sit in a van outside of your house, or even know if you have a house. I do follow you on Twitter, but that’s because someone retweeted something you tweeted and I thought it was hilarious. I also follow this guy @badbanana on Twitter because he is hilarious. I don’t know him either. All that to say, though I have enjoyed your movies, I don’t think about you very often, Anna Kendrick, so when I had a dream about you it was unusual.

In the dream you and I were apparently life long friends, but we lived in different cities and didn’t see each other often. You were still and actor and I’m not really sure what I did. But anyway, we happened to be in the same city at the same time and you asked me to drop by your shoot if I had time. I finished up what I had to do and headed your way. There was this huge drawn out part of the dream of me trying to get through your security and trying to explain that we were buds. It was stressful. I finally walked into your dressing room and you were talking and laughing with your “people.” When you saw me you asked them to “give us a few minutes.” As soon as they left you completely changed. You took of your “mask of happiness” that you were using with them, and with me, your lifelong friend with whom you could be real, you were just sad. Your eyes were full of sadness. You didn’t say anything in the dream, you just hugged me and were very, very sad. Anna Kendrick, I am not a crier, but I woke up crying and feeling a strong sadness because in this dream you were so sad. It was a very deep, deep sadness. I’m not gonna lie, it’s like three days later now and I still feel sad.

So, Anna Kendrick, I’ve decided to pray for you. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t usually pray for people I don’t know. I mean, I pray for things like genocides, and human trafficking, natural disasters and the riots in Venezuela, but praying for one person that neither I nor anyone else I know actually knows is a new thing for me. But I am praying for you. I don’t know if you are actually sad in real life…maybe you are very happy…but you’re stuck with me either way. I promise to continue not googling you, putting up posters of you, or sitting in front of your house in a van. But I will pray for you.

And I pray that you, Anna Kendrick, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.



Posted in Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

A Prayer

I started off 2014 reading the book of Ephesians and was drawn in to two powerful prayers in this incredible book. The more I read them, the more I felt like God was calling me to pray this prayer regularly for the girls at La Casa de mi Padre. So, I took the prayers and made them into one, and wrote it out with a blank where the name would go. Every day I pray this prayer for whomever God places on my heart. Sometimes I pray it eleven times, one time for each of the girls. Sometimes it is one specific girl. It just depends. I thought I would post it here in case any of you would like to join in praying for them. It’s also a great prayer to pray for yourself and anyone in your life.

A Prayer for the Girls of La Casa de mi Padre (from Ephesians 1:17-19, and 3:16-19)

I ask that you, the God of our Lord Jesus Chris, the glorious Father, may give __________ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of her heart may be enlightened in order that she may know the hope to which you have called her, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe. I pray that out of your glorious riches that you would strengthen __________ with power through your Spirit in her inner being, so that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith. And I pray that __________, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that she may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Posted in El Salvador, God | Leave a comment

A Life

Today I found out that an old friend from high school has cancer. A few months ago a friend lost his grand daughter after just 14 days of life. So I’ve been thinking about life.

God tells us that all of our days are written in his book when he formed us. So I’ve got to believe that each of us lives our full life…even if it seems short to those of us left behind. But I can tell you, each life that I have known and said good-bye to has impacted me.

Brooks never breathed a single breath here on earth, but I felt his kicks against my hand from inside his mom’s stomach. I saw his so very small casket be lowered into the ground. I watched his parents grieve and find hope in the midst of great despair. Brooks’ life was full…and it mattered.

Rick lived 23 years here on this earth. He made me laugh, he was a cherished friend, he led me closer to the Lord by the way he lived his life. He impacted me in his life, and he impacted me in his death. What Rick could have never known at the time is that God would use his tragic (to us)/glorious (to him) death as a pivotal circumstance in my faith. It was a moment in my life in which I had to decide if this walk of faith was worth it or not. I really battled with the Lord during that time. I asked really hard questions. I cried, I yelled, I was angry…and like David in the Psalms…my anguish turned into praise. Day after day. Rick’s life was full…and it mattered.

Then I put something together that I never had before.

My Uncle Chuck died when I was five years old. I don’t really remember him because he was sick for most of my life. But I remember his kindness even though I don’t remember his face. After he died I was riding to Target with my mom and I began to ask her questions about where my uncle was now that he had died. My mom began explaining heaven and the sacrifice Christ made for us. In that car, on that day, I gave my heart and my life to Jesus. I vividly remember it. All because of a life…and a death. My uncle’s life mattered.

We have this one life here on earth. We have this one chance. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want people to think of, even if they can’t remember your face?

Posted in Life | 2 Comments


Over the last week, because of a great discussion with my missionary coach, I have been thinking a lot about the Armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18. I’ve read these verses many times throughout my life, but for some reason, this week made them really come alive for me. I thought I would outline here the process that I have been using with these verses in case it is helpful to anyone else.

v. 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Where does my strength come from?)

v. 11 & 12 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is no against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Who is my enemy? The devil. Or better yet, who is not my enemy? It has helped me to say out loud who my enemy is NOT. (My friend, my boss, my parent, my sibling, etc…wherever your struggle is) is NOT my enemy.

v. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (There is a solution! God has provided the ability for us to stand firm.)

v.14a Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… (What is the truth? What is the truth about God’s thoughts towards me? What is the truth about my calling? What is the truth about God’s character?)

v.14b …with the breastplate of righteousness in place… (The breastplate protects your chest, protects your heart…the exact place where the enemy is going to fling his arrows. What are my wounds that he is going to target? What are my vulnerable spots? And what is the truth about that?

v. 15 …and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (What is it to be a peacemaker? Commit to speaking the truth in love with the intention of bringing peace, not causing discord.)

v.16 & 17 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Commit to memorizing verses pertaining to your struggle so that you can be armed and protected.)

v.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. (We are not alone! Sometimes it means putting on this armor several times a day. Sometimes it means repeating “such and such is NOT my enemy” several times a day. But whatever the case, help is with us always.)


Posted in God | Leave a comment

Sandpaper People

We’ve all had them, or will have them, or currently have them in our lives. They are the people that rub us the wrong way. You know what I mean. They make life just a little bit harder with their bad attitude, constant criticism, and controlling nature. They are impossible to please and just bring us down.

I recently heard this type of people referred to as “sandpaper people.” Sandpaper is rough and it rubs us wrong. But the more I got to thinking about that term, I realized that sandpaper is used to smooth and refine something. It takes off the rough edges and makes things ready for use.

When dealing with sandpaper people and you find it tough to figure out the point of having them in your life, take a step back. Look at your rough edges. Is this person in your life to refine you? If so, don’t let bitterness steal your joy. Let yourself be refined.

Posted in Life | 1 Comment