Friday, December 23, 2011

"For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain."

Phillippians 1:21 is a bold statement. A true one. I've been thinking about those words a lot lately. An old friend from middle and high school passed away in a car accident last Saturday. He was only 21 and my heart broke for his family. I went to his funeral Monday, not knowing what to expect. I could only imagine my own grief if it had been my brother or son. I was absolutely blown away by how Jesus was glorified in Justin's death. His family just kept declaring the Lord's goodness and that His purposes are higher than ours. Hearing his mom reassure us "Well if you know Jesus you'll see Justin again soon!" was such a testament to the hope we have in our Savior. The service itself glorified God and everyone in the room heard the gospel and was challenged to live their lives for Jesus. It was so beautiful to see the hope and peace that we have in Christ! It makes my heart rejoice despite the terrible circumstances.


It is incredible to see how God has used such a tragedy to bring people to Himself. I used to think God must be awfully selfish and conceited if His only concern is glorifying Himself and using us to accomplish His purposes. But then I came to understand that God is SO good, that it would be cruel of Him if he were to keep us from Himself. A favorite quote by C.S. Lewis says "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." He loves us SO much that He allows us to have a relationship with His holiness that loves us so deeply. The absolute best thing He can allow us to do is to worship and glorify Him, because its what we were literally created to do.


When the apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, he wrote, "For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain." The verse just keeps running through my head. It begs the question, do I really believe that? I do. I believe the last part. I believe that I would gain from death, because I know I would spend eternity worshipping Jesus in a perfect paradise with a Holy God beyond my tiny brain's comprehension. 


But, the first part... To live is Christ. Do I really believe that? Paul did. His entire life reflected his deep passion to live for Christ. He preached the gospel fearlessly, suffering persecution that as Christians in America we can 't even begin to imagine. But, do I believe it? Yes and no.... Yes, I am trying to live my life for Jesus. The desire of my heart is to live my life glorifying Him. But.... no, I must not really get it. If I really believed the gospel I would share the gospel without fear. I would love more deeply, and if I truly loved people I would tell everyone I know about the unshakable hope they can find in Jesus. 


I know its a little morbid, but it makes me wonder, what would my funeral be like? I don't know... my wish would be that hundreds would be in attendance, joyfully remembering how I lived my life for Jesus. My wish would be that the gospel would be preached and that people might come to know Jesus through my own death. But then I wonder... if I died tomorrow, would more people come to know Jesus through my death than through how I am living my life? 


That's a scary, convicting, question. And I just don't know the answer. I do know that until its time for me to leave this Earth, I am going to live my life with the hope that more people would come to know Jesus through my life than through my death. I pray that the Lord would use me beyond my imagination, but in order for Him to do that I know I need to get out of His way. I need to surrender my pride, my fear of man, my idols of self image and success. Paul understood the need to surrender. In Phillippians 3:7-9 he writes, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from following the rules, but that which is through faith in Christ." 


To live is Christ, to die is gain. I pray that we would all better understand the first part. 




Check out this awesome rap about the gospel, the good news of Jesus. 








And a song I'm loving lately... 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

River of Hope

Like the river's rushing water,
my hope flows from You. 
You've always loved Your daughter, 
from Your love, my love grew. 

Thirsty, my soul cried out to You.
Searching, I drank from posion cups.
This perfect joy I never knew,
til' Your water of life filled me up. 

River of hope, You spur on new life. 
my once broken heart was dark as night. 
Now I no longer live in blinding strife, 
Your gift of grace ushered in the Light.

As Your love beckons me deeper, 
my heart responds to Your call.
The rapids seem to get steeper, 
but You carry me through it all.

River of hope, giving purpose, freedom;
rushing water of life in my veins.
Now my passion is Your Kingdom,
You've washed away all of my stains. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In AWE of an AWESOME God.

I can't even describe the variety of emotions I'm feeling right now. I'm just in awe. I'm speechless and overwhelmed by my God's goodness and faithfulness. I can hardly articulate it. Girls' Night Out was a HUGE success... there were about 500 girls packed into the Capstone room and Marian spoke passionately and powerfully. But thats not what made the night a success. 


The night was successful because the purpose was to see young women surrender their hearts to Jesus. An unbelievable 105 women gave their hearts to Jesus tonight. ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE girls said "Yes" to starting a relationship with God tonight. That is nothing short of a miracle! That is 105 changed lives. 105 souls who were rescued from the darkness of sin and a life without God. Thats about a fifth of the girls who were in attendance tonight. Thats the size of a USC sorority pledge class. Only God can move hearts to surrender like that, not a speaker, not a well marketed event. Only the one true God of the universe, Jesus, can turn hardened hearts to Himself. 


105. And that's not counting the girl who messaged a friend of mine saying, "I'm ready, I know I need to do this, but I don't know how. I need to talk to you tomorrow!" That makes it 105.5 haha. Thats not counting the 7 freshman girls that my friend who is a RM got to explain the gospel to for over an hour after the event. Thats not counting the girl who told me "I know I need Jesus so badly" or the girl who called tonight "an eye opener and a total wakeup call". Thats not counting the girls who already consider themselves Christians but said "Yes" to wanting to know more about growing in their faith. Thats not counting the conversations that are sure to follow in the days and weeks to come. 


Praise my God who is FAITHFUL! People keep thanking me for orchestrating the event tonight, but I just want you all to know that the only thing I've done is be obedient to His calling. I promise if you surrender in obedience to the plans that God has for you, He will BLOW YOUR MIND with His faithfulness. 


If you are one of the 105 girls that began a relationship with Jesus tonight, please get in touch with me. I would love to walk alongside you as you start your new life with Jesus. Transformation comes with revelation of who God is, it doesn't happen overnight. 


If you are one of the girls tonight who left with questions about what it means to follow Jesus, please don't be afraid to ask. Even if you're an athiest or agnostic... bring on the hard questions. I'd love to chat! 


If you are one of the girls who wants to grow in your relationship with Jesus, again, please don't hesitate to talk to me! I would be delighted to help you pursue a deeper relationship with God. 


To all of you who prayed in support of this event, thank you immensely. The Lord heard and answered those prayers in a big way. Please continue to pray as we follow up with girls who made decisions tonight. I'm so thankful that I get to be a part of what God is doing at USC. It's humbling and absolutely incredible. 


"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!"- Ephesians 3:20



Friday, November 11, 2011

The excitement just hit!

The excitement for Girl’s Night Out just hit me!!! It’s been slowly building all week, but tonight its here in full force! I’ve been incredibly focused on all the things I need to get done beforehand, and in the process it’s easy to forget the entire purpose: for young women's lives to be transformed by the love of Jesus.

If you’re reading this and you don’t know what Girl’s Night Out is, let me explain….GNO is the name of the event where author, Marian Jordan, comes to speak on her book, Sex and the City Uncovered (Buy it here.). Sex and the City Uncovered is an incredible book that refutes the lies of the “Sex and the City” lifestyle with truth about finding our fulfillment solely in a relationship with our Creator, God.

Girl’s Night Out will be this coming Wednesday, November 16th at 7:45 and about 500 girls will pack into the Capstone ballroom to hear Marian speak. For the past two months I’ve been planning every detail with the hope that God would use this night to change lives for His glory. This night is near and dear to my heart, because two years ago God used this very same event to change me from the inside out. I remember sitting in the Capstone ballroom... I don’t even know how I got there. I think my roommate and I decided to come on a whim because it was at the bottom of our dorm. So I went and was blown away by how this woman knew everything I was thinking and feeling about life. She knew my emptiness and she seemed to know the answer as well. I won the raffle for a Tsunami gift card that night and was super excited because I never win anything. After the event I read Sex and the City Uncovered from front to back in less than two days. I remember thinking about Marian’s prayer where she asks God to change her heart to love Him. I don’t know what my own prayer was exactly but I do remember thinking, “Lord I’ve tried everything else and I’m still not satisfied… I guess I’ll try it your way.”

I guess that’s all He needed to hear. Just give God an open invite to your heart and I promise you He will completely transform you. That’s why I’m excited! Right now at this very moment there are young women all over this campus who are hurting, broken, searching, dissatisfied, bitter, angry, depressed, hopeless. You name it. They need to know Jesus. And little do they know that on Wednesday night their entire LIVES will change. Their eternity is about to change because on Nov. 16th they will surrender their lives to Jesus. The girls who are searching will recognize that they have finally found what they are looking for. The ones who are hopeless will have found unfailing hope! The ones who believe they are unlovable will finally realize that they are deeply loved by the One who created them.

In 6 short days lives will be transformed. It’s not a matter of if, but when and who. God is faithful. He is ultimately in charge of this event, not me. He is ultimately the one speaking to these girl’s hearts, not Marian. He’s got this. I’m ready to see Him do work! I can't wait to see young women come from death to new LIFE in Jesus!

Please, join me in praying for this Girls Night Out!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

LifeGroup & other random thoughts.

I just got back from LifeGroup where I got to experience a beautiful picture of confession, community, and grace.  I was super close to skipping out on them tonight, I have two tests this week and a million other excuses, but I went and am so glad I did. I am so thankful for those women. In case you don't know what Life Group is... its just another name for Midtown's small groups where we live life together and try to love each other as family, as Jesus loves us. 


Being apart of LifeGroup has taught me so much and grown me in so many ways. Even when it's hard to see God doing work in my own life it is so incredible and clear that He is doing work in my best friends' lives. And that is SO encouraging. Hearing about what God is doing in other people's lives just gives me a reality check on who God is. Can I just confess something.... I am so selfish. I'm so easily focused on what God is doing (or isn't doing) in my life. I know we all are, but lately I've just been annoying myself with my selfishness. Hearing what God is doing outside of my own little world just reminds me that my God is BIG. Like really, really big. Sovereign and in control of everything. And He loves us all SO much. Enough to be intimately involved in every single one of our lives. Enough to pursue us and invite us to be apart of His family. 


That's just crazy! It's crazy because its so true. I loved Midtown's sermon tonight on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (yes, I had to google the spelling of their names). The point isn't that they stood up for God, so God saved them from the fiery furnace. The point is that we serve the only God who came down to walk amongst us, to take part in our suffering. No other God can save in this way. Thats how much He cares. At the end of the story King Neb gets saved and Jesus completely changes his heart! In the beginning of the story his heart was so hardened that it seemed impossible for him to ever love God. I'm definitely guilty of giving up on some people in my life, because they seem to have absolutely no interest in anything spiritual. Tonight was a great reminder that my friends and family didn't give up on me so I won't give up on anyone either. We should never underestimate the ability of an all powerful, gracious, and loving God to transform hearts and heal brokenness. There are no exceptions to His rule. No one is too far from Him. Ephesians 2:13 says But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.


Sorry this post is a little scattered. My thoughts/ emotions have been a little scattered lately. On another note, please please join me in praying for the Girl's Night Out event. Jesus used this event to begin a radical transformation in my life (read about it here) and I'm praying that He will use this night to transform other girl's lives too!





Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Encouragement


So it’s been two months since I last posted (apologies) and life has been flying by. I’m halfway through with first semester of Junior year and I want it all to sloooow down. I’ve been working hard and playing hard, but honestly that’s just it... its been hard. It’s been hard to stay focused on Jesus and not a To-Do list. It’s been hard transitioning from 9 weeks in a solid Christian community to living in a sorority house where I sometimes feel like an alien from another planet. It’s been hard to figure out how to have a relationship with Jesus without becoming “religious”, just going through the motions as if I could somehow earn God's grace. It’s been hard to be joyful when I’m truthfully just frustrated and a tad overwhelmed.

            I could go on, but everyone knows that life is hard. And just because I’m a Christian, God certainly didn’t promise that life would be easy. Living for Jesus is anything but easy. But what I really want to talk about is my friend Meredith’s birthday party I went to this past Friday and how God used the most random combination of people to encourage me to continue pursuing Him. Some were close friends, some merely acquaintances, some I just met there, but they all encouraged me more than they realize. The beautiful thing is that their encouragement wasn’t even intentional; it was just an overflow of their hearts. It was the Lord using His sons and daughters to remind me of why I’m living for Him. These people, they all love Jesus wholeheartedly and are living for Him. Hearing about what God is doing in their lives and just seeing their love for Him through their actions and words, was SO amazing. It reminded me of how God has radically changed MY life and how much I truly desire to live for Jesus, despite life’s daily struggles.
           
            One friend, Lucy, is a new Cru staff member (Lucy's Blog) and we were just talking about her support raising when she mentioned that she often uses me as an example of a girl whose life has been radically changed because of Jesus. I totally was not expecting her to say that and it was incredibly humbling. Not because of anything that I’ve done, but humbling when I remembered how good my God is. I so easily forget how God completely changed my life. I’ve just been feeling inadequate, feeling like God can’t really use me. I forgot the reality of what He rescued me from. I was reminded that not only has He literally transformed me from the inside out, He has used my life to influence and encourage others in ways that I could have never dreamed. I’m an undeserving sinner yet God calls me His daughter. Not only that but He chooses to bless me. He chooses to use my story of brokenness to show others His love and grace. It’s absolutely incredible.

            Recently I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude for the community of Christians that the Lord has surrounded me with. As I told my friend, Laura, lately I’ve had a hard time understanding that God really loves me, but then I look around and see how He has blessed me with friends who love me deeply and who encourage me daily to pursue Jesus. God has really been pouring out His love on me through my brothers and sisters in Christ and I’m so thankful for that. If you’re reading this and you don’t have that kind of encouragement and support in your life, just ask God to provide and I promise that He’s faithful and He will.  He is good.

PS. Go read Psalm 103. Seriously, right now. God loves us SO much. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The most important question you'll ever answer:

 I just love the story in the book of Matthew when Jesus asks Peter, "But what about you?"... "Who do you say I am?" This verse carries such a tremendous weight. It is a pivotal, life-changing question for each and every one of us.


To back-track for a second, the chapter starts off with Jesus asking Peter, "Who do these people say the Son of Man is?" Peter replies saying the people think that John the Baptist, or maybe the prophet Elijah is the Son of Man, the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish people. Then Matthew 16:15 says Jesus asks Peter, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?" And Peter answers and says "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." How powerful is that!? Jesus does. not. care. what the crowds are saying about Him. He cares how each of us individually respond to Him. And Peter doesn't care what the crowds are saying about Jesus, he knows who his God is! What you think about God is the foundation for the rest of your life, so this question is absolutely crucial. I'll come back to that, but let me just quickly fill you in on my week so far...


Today was our first full day at the Redeemed Girl Institute in Destin, Florida and let me tell you it was absolutely incredible. The spirit of God filled that room and He spoke through every teacher in a powerful way. Marian taught on Matthew 16:15 and the importance of knowing who Jesus is as our Creator, God of the universe. She walked us through the prophecies of the Old Testament that foreshadow the coming of a Redeemer, a God who would put on flesh and come into this world to die for our sins, to reconcile us back to Himself. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament. You can't read them and still doubt that He is the One true, sovereign God who came to put us back into a right relationship with God, the Father. You just can't argue it. It's mind blowing.


Anyways, it was funny because I had originally started a blog on this verse in May when the Lord used it to speak to me in a profound way, but I never finished it. Then of course, with perfect timing Marian taught it today. As I said before, its a pivotal verse because what you believe about God is the foundation of your life. If you don't believe in God, or you believe in a different god, your life is going to be radically different than if you know Jesus, the One true God. Jesus asks Peter this question to make a point. He wants to make it clear to us that we can't listen to other people's opinions. We are held personally responsible for making our own decision about who Jesus is. God requires a response. We can either reject Him or accept Him as our Savior. There is no neutral ground though. There is no room for passivity. Jesus is asking you right now, "But who do YOU say I am?" and your answer will change the course of your future either towards the glory of Heaven or the devastation of Hell. That's the truth.


Beyond the assurance of our salvation, this question is crucial to knowing truth about our identity and our circumstances. That is what God spoke to me in May... I was struggling and God just spoke to me in that verse and said, "Kelsey, Who do you say I am?" and I answered "Lord, you know that I know You are God. You know I love You." I was confused, because I had already made the decision that Jesus is God, so why would He ask me that? But God replied "You know I am God, but you have to make that decision every single day. Every day you have to get up and decide who is in control of your life, you or me? You have to get up and decide what You know to be true about my character." The Lord just convicted me of not truly knowing His character. I had been struggling with believing lies about the goodness and power of God. Every single day we have a choice to make. We have to ask ourselves, "Who is my God?" Jesus? Another person? A job? Who or what are you serving? We have to choose to surrender control to God, we have to choose to allow Him to work in us, and we have to choose to believe truth about who He is. If we truly believe that He is God, that He is perfectly good, that He holds all things together, that He can move mountains, then what is there to fear in life? Absolutely, nothing!


Not only our salvation, but every moment of our lives hinges on the question, "But who do you say I am?" My prayer is that we would know who He is, that we would declare His greatness and truly trust in Him as we come to know our God, Jesus.


C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg-- or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him, Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

1 week til Redeemed Girl Institute!

I cannot contain my excitement for Destin & the Redeemed Girl Institute! But it's also my last week in Houston, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand I'm SO excited to be back in Columbia with my family & best friends, but on the other, I'm definitely going to miss the friends I've made here. Everyone has been beyond welcoming. Getting to know these women has been absolutely wonderful. They all love Jesus so much and have so much wisdom and compassion. They have each been a blessing to me. 


I haven't really been able to post a lot, because I've had so many thoughts that I can't seem to put them into a coherent blog. I think I'm going to have a lot of processing to do when I get home, so I can really think about everything that I've learned. I don't know when I'm going to have time to process though. I literally have one day to spend with family, one day to move into AXO and then rush starts & school starts. It's going to be hectic but I can't wait to get back into the swing of things. I'm looking forward to starting Bible study with my sisters again. I can't wait to see how the Lord moves and changes hearts. B-stud is always the highlight of my week, I love love love those girls! 


Speaking of girls, please be praying for the 28 girls that will be joining us at the Institute on August 7th. We're going to have 2 morning sessions where Marian and other women will teach, then a lunch break with a small group time to discuss questions. After lunch we're going to have beach time! And then we'll get together for dinner, another session, and worship! We also have activities planned for the nights so hopefully we'll have enough energy for it all. It's going to be so much fun! Please pray that the girls' hearts would catch fire for Jesus and that they would go back to campus radiant Christ's love. 


Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
   because the Lord has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor. 


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Houston update!

I only have three weeks left in Houston?! How did that happen? And then one week in Destin at the Redeemed Girl Institute! Summer always goes by way too quickly... but I absolutely cannot contain my excitement for Destin. It's going to be so much fun and I know that God is going to move in a powerful way. Please join us in praying for the young women who will be attending the RG Institute... that they would have teachable hearts, that they would fall deeply in love with Jesus, and that they would grow into oaks of righteousness for the display of His splendor! Isaiah 61 is our vision!

On another note, this weekend was a ton of fun! The interns, myself, and some Underground friends went to watch the Houston Astros' play ball and then we saw the David Crowder Band afterwards! In the words of my dear friend Mallory, "I'm not that interested in baseball, but I'm definitely interested in baseball players" haha. I second her on that! The Astros won and David Crowder was awesome, so we had a lot of fun. I also went to the outlets today and found some major steals... 2 shorts, 2 tanks, 1 shirt, 1 headband, & a scarf for only $50 (Thanks for the check, Mimi!)... bargain shopping at its finest! 

Tomorrow night is our first Zumba workout & Bible study combo, hosted by the lovely ladies of Underground...  I'm extremely uncoordinated, so it should be interesting. I'm also spending the night at Kelsey Thomas' house for a few days while Marian & Rebecca are out of town. The Thomas family is adorable so I'm looking forward to spending time with them. 

Well... I guess that's all for now. Let me know how I can be praying for you!


PS.... I just want to say how incredibly grateful I am to the Lord for healing my back! And my shoulder! If you didn't know I tore my labrum falling off my dock, but God is so faithful and my shoulder is almost back to normal. My back continues to feel better and I'm getting stronger and more flexible. I absolutely can't wait to get back to working out and feeling good. I'm so thankful for being able to sit without being in pain. It's amazing what being pain free feels like. It literally brings tears to my eyes. Thank You, Jesus.  :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Faith is Not a Feeling...

My apologies for neglecting this blog. I can't believe my last entry was "Hello Houston" and now I've already been here for over three weeks! Crazy!  I definitely underestimated how busy I would be. I’ve been really homesick this past week. I guess three weeks is my maximum to go without seeing my family and friends. Plus winning a back-to-back National Championship title in baseball had my heart aching to be in Columbia! Don’t get me wrong, my internship is great. I sincerely look forward to going to the office each day and working with the other interns. Let me see if I can give you a quick update.... I'm almost finished putting together & editing the resources for "A Sorority Girl's Guide to Living for Jesus" book (the title is still up in the air, suggestions are welcome!) Next week I'll begin to focus on compiling the database of addresses of sorority chapter's nationwide. Not the most fun task in the world, but someones gotta do it. 


This past weekend I took a road trip to College Station, home of Texas A&M, which is where my mom went for 3 years of college. I went to visit my cousin KT who I haven't seen in over 3 years! She's only a year younger than me, so we get a long great. I'm basically a completely different person (thanks to Jesus) than I was when she last came to visit my Senior year of high school. It was great sharing with her what God has been doing in my life and hearing about what's going on in hers. It was a relaxing weekend... finally got to work on my tan! Monday, I went to Mallory's (another intern) house for 4th of July festivities. I seriously love the 4th, its so much fun! Country music, good food, great friends, enjoying the summer sunshine, celebrating AMERICA! yay! It's the best. I was homesick though... I can't remember a 4th of July when I wasn't on Lake Murray with my friends and fam, but I still had a great time with new friends.


I'm learning a lot. I'm learning that ministry is hard. I knew that already, but now I'm learning the daily reality of making a choice to give Jesus 100% even when you don't feel like doing something. That is the main thing I'm learning: that faith is not a feeling. Funny how God works...the bible study I taught all last semester was called "Faith is Not a Feeling", a book by Ney Bailey. I guess He was teaching it to me all last semester in order to prepare me for this summer. I've said it to other people a million times, but I can't seem to get it through my own head... "Faith is not a feeling!". Faith is taking God at His word.  We can't depend on our feelings. 


 I know that I love Jesus deeply, and that my heart's desire is to serve Him with my life... but I don't feel like that every day. The "butterflies" of a new love are much less common recently. I'm a very emotionally based person... I cry when I'm happy, mad, sad, or whatever. When I hear about someone else's struggles, I feel for them deeply. You get the picture. However, I've come to realize that feelings do not dictate my love for God. To be honest, I want the butterflies back. I want the first love feelings forever because they're warm and fuzzy, and who doesn't like warm and fuzzy? But that's not how it works in any relationship. Relationships built on feelings are shallow and fade fast. I'm learning a new kind of love for Jesus. A love that requires a lot of trust. Trusting that He is growing my faith and deepening our relationship even though I don't have butterflies. It's good, this new level of faith. 


If you'd like to pray for me, I would really appreciate prayers against homesickness. I don't want to miss out on everything that God has for me here because I'm too preoccupied with missing home. It's been distracting me a lot in the last few days. I really want to enjoy my time here and the opportunities that God has blessed me with! Thanks! Let me know how I can be praying for you :) 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Helloooo Houston!

I'm finally here! Houston is finally a reality! Rebecca and I arrived Tuesday evening and went straight to a prayer service for As Our Own ministries at Second Baptist Houston (my new church for the summer). We went out to dinner and then Rebecca and I got settled in at Kristen's. I'm living in a gorgeous house with my own room, although its unfurnished so it's just me and my bed and a little nightstand. Kristen is our host and she is absolutely the most welcoming, sweet, hospitable woman ever! I'm looking forward to getting to know her better this summer.

The first few days were a whirlwind of activity. After our first full day of work Wednesday, that night we went to Studio Movie Grille where we watched Super 8 which was great (think ET meets Independence Day). I'd definitely see it again! Then after work Thursday Marian hosted a BBQ dinner at her house for all of the RGM supporters. Marian introduced us to everyone and shared the Isaiah 61 vision of Redeemed Girl Ministries. This weekend we've been able to relax. Rebecca and I went to the pool where I got suuuuper sunburnt.... who puts on sunscreen in 102 degree weather?? not this girl..! Sometimes I think I'm invincible to sunburn, but my itchy red skin says otherwise. Lesson learned.

This morning we went to Second Baptist where Marian teaches a Bible study class on the book of John. She spoke about the facts of the Resurrection of Jesus and how it's a historical fact with tons of evidence to back it up. Our faith means nothing if Jesus didn't defeat death by rising from the grave. The resurrection proved His divinity and that His blood was enough to cleanse us from our sin. Christianity isn't a blind faith, there is a mountain of historical evidence that proves Jesus is God. It's so hard for us to wrap our minds around a man rising from the dead, but it really happened. There were 500 eyewitnesses to back up the disciples stories. Jesus went from death to life, which is exactly what a relationship with Him can do for you.  He brings us out of death and darkness and gives us new life in Him.

While teaching this morning Marian said, "Do you even realize WHO you serve?!"  and I so needed to hear that. Honestly, I've been feeling really apathetic ever since we got here, and I just needed to be reminded of who I'm serving. I've been feeling scared and insecure, as if God doesn't know what He's doing with me here. But I know that I serve the living God who raised Jesus from the dead. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives within me. He's called me here for His purpose. And yes, I'm unworthy and under equipped, but He wants to use me anyways. Most importantly, it's not about me. I know I'll grow and learn so much this summer, but it's not about me. It's for His purpose and His glory so that young women can come to know Him. So, this morning gave me some great eternal perspective and a reminder of who God is. I'm so blessed with this opportunity to serve Him and get to know Him better throughout the journey.


On a side note, it looks like my internship will also include WEDDING PLANNING! Yay! Marianne Henry, the wonderful woman who does the business side of RGM, got engaged on Friday night! We went to an engagement party for her today and tomorrow will be a fun day at the office with wedding excitement in the air! Marianne is truly radiant and I'm so looking forward to spending the summer with her! Praise the Lord for the incredible women He has surrounded me with. I am so blessed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The RGM mission: ALL for His Glory (Isaiah 61)

The vision of Redeemed Girl Ministries is for young women to be redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ and transformed by His truth. And for those young women to become oaks of righteousness for the splendor of God's glory to be displayed. I am so blessed to be a part of that vision and mission this summer. Isaiah 61 says...

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
   because the Lord has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor. 
 
For some reason tonight my heart is particularly burdened with the heartaches of my friends, sisters, and just young women in general. This world is so broken. Our culture rips us apart, telling us that the new "woman" is to act like a man. It's not okay to be vulnerable or to long for love. It's not okay to be yourself, it's not okay to want a family or a husband. Put on a tough face, get a corporate job, make it on your own. You don't need anyone else and you certainly don't need God. Fill up the emptiness with alcohol, sex, materialism, relationships, social status. As long as you can put up a good front it will all be okay...  Ugh, it makes me sick just thinking about all the lies that constantly infiltrate our minds and attack our hearts.

Without knowing Jesus and His truth it is so easy to believe the lies and drown in them. My heart aches for all the girls who don't know the joy that comes from a relationship with Him. He is all consuming, all satisfying. As John Piper says, "To know Him and to be loved by Him is the end of our soul's quest for eternal satisfaction. He is infinite; and that answers to our longing for completeness. He is eternal; and that answers to our longing for permanence. He is unchangeable; and that answers to our longing for stability and security."  

Isaiah 61 is my mission statement this summer and I will carry it back to my campus and sorority house. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for my sisters and friends, to bring light into the darkness. To give girls the hope and truth and new life that Jesus offers. A lot of girls won't like me and won't want to hear a word I say. I know I'll face gossip and hatred. I already have this past year, and its hard, but I won't stop speaking the truth. I pray that they see God's love through me even though I always fall short. If they understood how good knowing Jesus really is, they would listen. I spent 18 years drowning in the lies of this world and it absolutely breaks my heart to watch people that I love drown too. The joy and hope of a new life with Jesus is too precious a gift to keep to myself. 

Isaiah 61 is my mission this summer and always. Please join me in praying for young women's lives to be transformed for the glory of Jesus' name.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Daughter, Your faith has healed you

Today I am rejoicing in healing. Mark 5:34 says "Daughter, Your faith has healed you, go in peace and be freed from your suffering". I put my hope in that verse of God's word for the last two years; it was written in my phone, on my mirror, on my desk, in my heart. I believed, but the waiting was so hard. This journey has been difficult, but it could have been so much worse, and it has been such a blessing in disguise. I've had to rely on the Lord and trust in Him to get me through it. Looking back I can see more clearly how God lead me through it. I have seen His faithfulness time and time again.

I've had back pain since my sophomore year of highschool but didn't discover the cause was 3 ruptured discs until half way through my freshman year of college. We did everything to avoid surgery. Chiropractors, physical therapists, spinal decompression, cortisone epidural shots, everything. Instead of getting better it got progressively worse. I couldn't sit for more than 30 minutes without intense shooting pain down my sciatic nerve into my leg. I couldn't be active, go to the gym, or ski. Focusing during class was almost impossible.

The limitations it put on my life were frustrating, the whole situation seemed so endlessly aggravating. I cried so many tears over it. But He is faithful. Countless times He pulled me out of my frustration and literally spoke to my heart, saying "Kelsey, Do you trust me?  I will never leave or forsake you." And I had to trust. Which is so much easier said than done. I knew that surgery was the right decision, when Dr. Rambo, one of the best neurosurgeons in the Southeast asked if he could pray over me before we left the office visit. I knew that God had His hand on the surgery.

Finally, I am healed. I knew the moment I woke up that the pain would be gone 100%. I can sit, I can raise my leg, I can stretch, I can do so many things that I used to take for granted. I am absolutely joyful that I am pain free! Praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow. When I was sitting in my follow up appointment today, I had to choke back the tears. It finally hit me. That this season is over. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. I am so thankful for my God who brings healing and comfort. He is there in the hard seasons of life and He is there in the joyous seasons of life. I literally can't put my thankfulness into words. I don't know how to verbalize it, but I am just overwhelmed by the the love of God today. Praise Him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I count it all JOY

My greatest joy is telling people what Jesus has done for me. Some days I feel like I am about to burst. I want to tell every person I encounter about the truth, hope, love, and joy that can be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. You can be redeemed! Set free! Made new! How incredible is that!? It blows my mind.

So why don't I always feel this way? Sometimes I think about my salvation and I don't "feel" anything. I get frustrated with myself for being ungrateful, for not being excited about sharing the good news. Even when I am excited about it, most of the time I hesitate to tell my friends about Jesus, for fear of what they might think. I get too caught up in my own desires and the focus becomes about me, not Him.

That's why it's so important to constantly remember what He has rescued us from. He has saved us from ourselves, from our self destructive sin. When we become blind to our own brokenness we can't understand why we need Him. When I take the focus off of myself, and onto what Jesus has done for me on the cross that's when my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and adoration. When I get to share my testimony, when I get to see Him transform a girls life, when I get to see Him rescue broken people....that's when I get excited! This uncontainable excitement and JOY is the only appropriate response to His amazing love. Joy, pure joy. My deepest desire is to never let this fire for Him burn out. He will be my first love, always.

His glory is what I'm living for. There is so much PURPOSE found in living for Jesus. It just doesn't get any better. I know the Lord is calling me to ministry after college. I know that it will be hard and I'm not going to make much money, and that's okay. I'm going to gain joy that has far greater value than any material thing. If you love Jesus, you understand where I'm coming from. If you don't, its okay if you don't quite get it. Some of my friends and family don't really understand, but its not about what they think. It's about pursuing my passion and using the gifts that God has given me for His glory to further His kingdom. So that is what I'm going to do. I know persecution and struggles will come, but I also know that He is faithful and that following Jesus is worth it all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Redeemed Girl Ministries Internship: Support Raising


Dear Friends,
I would like to share with you an incredible ministry opportunity that the Lord has called me to for this summer. I applied and was chosen to intern with Redeemed Girl Ministries under the direction of author and speaker Marian Jordan.
The vision of Redeemed Girl (RGM) is to see a generation of young women redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ, transformed by His truth, and who live for the glory of His name. RGM sponsors evangelistic events for college-aged women and provides resources that address the specific issues and struggles that they face. My own life has been greatly influenced by this ministry, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be used by God to impact others. (To learn more about the ministry visit www.redeemedgirl.org )
            My heart breaks for the young women of my generation. Did you know ….
  • Only 4% of those born after 1984 are committed followers of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 out of 4 college women has a sexually transmitted disease.
  • 40% of children growing up in America today are fatherless. As a result, this fatherless generation often struggles with promiscuity, identity issues, substance abuse and destructive eating disorders. These girls desperately need to know and experience the love of God.
  • 65% of college students agreed that “what’s right or wrong is a matter of personal opinion.”
  • 1700 college students die each year from alcohol related injuries.
I long for young women to know Jesus and to find life, love, and liberty in a relationship with Him. Since coming to college, God has set my heart on fire for Him. Being a college student and joining a sorority was so exciting, but it still felt like something was missing in my life. I’ve experienced and witnessed first-hand the heartbreak that young women face when they pursue the world instead of Jesus. After hearing Marian Jordan speak about how God is the only thing that can fulfill you, I realized that I will never find fulfillment in anything the world has to offer and that He has so much more planned for my life than I had ever planned for myself. After that realization, God completely changed my heart and gave me a new desire to seek Him. Many friends supported me last year in my trip to Greek Summit where I was equipped with ministry tools to lead my sorority, and I am now leading my sisters spiritually as Alpha Chi Omega’s Chaplain. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for me with such an incredible opportunity to join RGM in reaching out to this broken generation of young women and offering them the hope and life that is found in a relationship with Jesus.


I am so excited about this opportunity to intern with Redeemed Girl! First and foremost, please pray for me as I follow God’s calling for me to be equipped and led by Him in all that He puts before me this summer.  Secondly, would you consider helping to sponsor me financially?  I need to raise $1500 by May 1st to cover my travel, food, and housing while I serve with Redeemed Girl in Houston, TX. Thank you for prayerfully considering partnering with me this summer to reach my generation with the grace and love of Jesus. If you choose to financially support me you may donate by credit card, just visit www.redeemedgirl.org/donate (please put my name in the memo.) For more information check on my internship click here: RGM Blog. Your support is greatly appreciated.

For His Glory,
Kelsey

Redeemed Girl Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you..."

Jesus is so good to me. I'm always blown away by the perfection of His plans for me. He knows us so intimately that He can provide perfectly down to the very last detail. I love how Psalm 139 describes God's intimate knowledge of us as individuals:

 1 You have searched me, Lord,
   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
   you, Lord, know it completely.

God's love for us is mind-boggling. He recently blew me away with a summer internship that seems to have been handpicked for me. This summer I will be working with Redeemed Girl Ministries (redeeemedgirl.org) and Marian Jordan, my favorite Christian author & speaker. I first heard Marian speak September of my freshman year, and her message of God's fulfilling love and redemption spoke to my heart and sparked an incredible journey of life change.

I've been in awe of how perfectly the Lord arranges things to work for the good of those who love Him. You see, my original plan was to go on Summer Project with Campus Crusade for Christ. I've always wanted to travel and here was the perfect opportunity to grow in my faith, enjoy Christian community,and share the gospel overseas. The only thing standing in my way was my back pain and I prayed and believed that I would be healed, that He would open that door for me if He wanted me to go.When I went to the doctor and found out I might have to have surgery this summer, I was devastated. No missions project for me. I cried and was so frustrated. I knew that the Lord must have better plans, but I didn't understand what they could be.

Luckily, there was still one more day for me to apply to the RGM internship. When Marian called me to tell me that I had gotten the internship, I was over-joyed and overwhelmed with excitement! After I have back surgery in May, in June I will be moving to Houston, Texas for about two months. The more I find out about the internship the more perfect it seems.  My job includes contacting sorority Chaplains throughout the country. It is our hope to put together resource packets with tools that will equip these girls more fully when they begin Bible studies within their chapters. I will also be assisting in planning the Redeemed Girl Institute, a summer women's conference, in beautiful Destin, Florida! For more information check out redeemedgirl.org/institute. I know this experience is going to be challenging and rewarding in ways that I can't imagine. I can't wait to see how God is going to stretch my faith and teach me to trust Him more fully.





Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post Phi11y Reflection

Wow. Philly was incredible. I've been delaying writing this, because I just don't know how to condense the experience into words. I'll start by telling you about my awesome team. I didn't know what to expect out of this group, but we ended up meshing together perfectly. I love how Jesus can bring people who are completely different together and unify them with a bond that feels like family. Our testimonies were all unique, but I was able to relate very personally to a lot of the stories.Only God could have put us together so perfectly.

Thor was our "man driver", he has so much wisdom and insight to offer, plus hes just really smart and can do brilliant accents that are super amusing. Jacob and Georgina were my group leaders and did an awesome job of leading our team. The rest of the team members were Megan (hilaaaaarious), Ainhoa, Ruth, Christin, Shelly, Emily, Alex, and Kyle! They are all such incredible people and getting to hear their stories & spend the week with them was such a blessing.

Our team's mission site was a place called the Harmonious Volunteer Center, which is located in a very poor area of Philly and its basically a center that provides resources to the surrounding community. We helped paint an entire room, packed boxes of books to send to soldiers, picked up trash, planted a garden, made spreadsheets, did whatever was needed. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but my team was awesome and it was a blessing to be able to serve the community that way. I'm definitely a lot more thankful for the family and home that God has given me in Chapin and Columbia.


Every afternoon we got to explore the city, which was very cool, definitely different from Cola. I loved the buildings, but I could never live there, it's too cold and too big! In the evenings we had a worship service at a local church, that was just INCREDIBLE every night. Everyone got so into the music and the energy was so great, along with some very thought provoking sermons. My attitude was a lot different from last year. I expected to be broken and for God to do work, I just didn't know what that was going to look like.I definitely learned a lot and am still processing all of it.

Things I learned in Philly:
  • Community is priceless. I need more of it.
  • I want a man who is pursuing the Lord wholeheartedly, and I won't settle for less. 
  • Being in a community where I'm able to completely be myself, is a beautiful thing, and needs to happen more often.
  • I am disgustingly prideful. That pride is rooted in insecurity. [I had no idea that you could be insecure and prideful, this was an epiphany] Jesus is secure, the hope and anchor for my soul.
So in conclusion, Morgan, and I, are waging a war against our insecurities. Facing them head on. Letting the light of our Redeemer shine into all the darkest parts that we don't want to deal with. We're reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore (I highly recommend it). It's not going to be easy, but we're hoping it will make us more like Jesus.

Also, I'm starting a 21 day Bible reading plan with my precious mother, which brings me so much joy I can't even tell you. :) And God is doing so much work in the lives of my friends,  I'm constantly amazed. I am so blessed to be a part of His perfect plan.