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The middle ground.

I always used to want to be a writer. I started writing about a million different books, wrote countless blog posts and journaled until my hand was sore. There’s not much that I’ve ever finished. You know the hardest part of writing? For me, it’s always been adding details into the middle of the story. 

I always know where I want to start. I have a thought, an idea, a trace of something that resembles a beginning. So I write that. 

Then I usually know where I want to end. The best thing I think I’ve ever written is something that I would want to be the last page of a book that I will probably never finish writing. But I hold onto it and don’t share it because I have a longing in my heart for it to be read at the end of the story that it belongs to, and not as a piece of something that will never be complete. 

How many times do we live life like this? We hold onto the endings that we see and that we find perfection in and we don’t share them or change them or voice them in hope that one day the story we are living will lead us to a place where that ending is no longer just a page waiting to be published. 

We know where we begin, we know where we will end-it’s the details in the middle that we struggle with. 

Gosh I long for a day when I will wake up and the middle pieces of the story will just fall onto the page as if they were always there in my head just waiting to jump out. 

I long for a time when my life will be full of the details that point towards the beautiful ending that is already written.

BUT how awesome that I know my ending rests in my Lord?! And how awesome that I can surrender to Him every day knowing that He’s got the details- that He knows them, orchestrates them, and has written them even before my beginning on this earth. 

I long to remember this every day-to forget about any ending I might create that is not anything other than JESUS. 

I might never be able to write the middle of the stories that I will always want to finish, but I will always be able to boldly profess that in life I know I won’t ever have to worry about the middle ground so long as I remain rooted in the most glorious beginning and ending that will EVER be written. 

Standing in the Gap

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."

Something that I struggle so much with is always wanting to fix things. But when the times come where I don’t know what to do or what to say or how to act or how to help, I find myself shutting down. 

How precious is this gem that my Lord is given to me. How precious is the Spirit that He has promised? That the same Spirit that moves in joy can groan for us in times of sadness. That when I cannot find the words, when you cannot find the words, when we are BROKEN and LOST and HURTING, that Spirit will intercede on our behalf. 

Over and over again my Lord reels me back in close to Him and whispers to me that He knows. He knows the hurt, He sees the pain, and He holds me through them. When I am at a loss, when there is literally nothing to be said or nothing that can be done, when I can’t just go through the motions of finding a solution or fast fix, He is there. 

And He is begging me, and begging you, to remember that He is Endless, Timeless, He is MORE—and He is there. 

I love the way Romans 8:26 is presented in The Message, saying:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”

Gosh, I long to hear these words so often and write them on my heart so much that I can never forget them. 

If all you can do is cry, if all you can do is sit in silent sadness, He knows what it is you need and He WILL lift it up. How incredible to have a God who gave His son to die for us, and then (as if that wasn’t enough) continues to step in over and over and over again and rescue us. 

He doesn’t just stand in the gap for us, He reminds us how to leap over it. 

HOPE

HOPE. It’s what we search for. It’s what we cling to. It’s what we found on the streets of Molo on Sunday, December 18. We prayed for hope through so many situations. Situations where we saw desperation and despair, situations where we could not comprehend or understand. God said “Hold on. The Hope that I have promised you is coming soon for you to see.” On that Sunday night, our God fulfilled that promise. It came in the form of three young boys: Issac, 10, Paul, 8, and Willy, 7. We could have never imagined how God could use these three to prove His faithfulness, and I’m sure they could have never imagined how much love and grace He could pour onto them. 

Imagine being ten years old. You have been kicked out of the home that you had with your family, beaten out of the home that was supposed to have rescued you, and you are tired and dirty and hungry and scared. And so, when you see a group of people who look like they might be able to help, you find it in you to walk up. You make a simple request, “I want to go to school,” never imagining how much your life is about to change. This is what God allowed us to be a part of on that Sunday. 

And so when Issac said he wanted school, we knew God was calling us to get him there. And when he said there were two others with him, we knew God was saying “Find them too”. 

Thus began the whirlwind of the next 24 hours. 

After the immediate needs of Issac were met, after he had been fed and could see that the intentions to help him were pure, he was able to lead the way to find the other two boys. 

Again, God proved how faithful and just He is. As we were crying and calling out to HIm in the darkness of our bus, praying and begging for Him to bring the boys to us, the doors opened and Paul and Willie walked onto the bus and into our hearts. 

There is no better word than FAMILY to describe what we were in the hours that followed. As we found clothes and tried dozens of different shoes on the boys and laughed and cried as they began to open up to us, we were family. When the boys got showers for the first time and we carted them up and down the halls of our hotel to find the rooms that had hot water, we were family. When we sat down for a meal and watched our three precious boys pile up the food and grin into their plates, we were family. And when we prayed to our God and thanked Him over and over and over again for the faithfulness and love and hope that we saw in each of them, we were family. 

That first night, we all talked to God so much. He was with us through it all, he led us through each step. As we got to tuck the boys into warm beds (something they hadn’t had in months, if not years), we knew that it was just the beginning of their story. 

All night we prayed, asking God what was next. And then sweet Phoebe knew exactly what to do. Through the grace of open and accepting hearts, and through the blessing of those who are willing to follow the Lord and open their hearts and homes, Phoebe’s parents excitedly welcomed the boys into their home. 

Less than 24 hours after being on the street, the three boys and our team were en route to Phoebe’s parents’ home and to a new and brighter future. There are not words to describe the JOY of that bus ride. And there are even less words to describe the JOY of watching a new family come together for the first time. 

God is GOOD, He is PERFECT and His plan is MIGHTY. 

HOPE—we saw it in the transformation of three dirty, hungry boys as their former lives were washed away and they were made new by the grace of God. We saw it in the faces of a mom and dad whose family became three hearts bigger in a matter of minutes. We heard it when we received news that the boys passed interviews to attend school!  But most importantly, we have this hope BECAUSE God gave it to us. 

There is no better Christmas present than HOPE. Hope came to the world when a baby was born in a manger. Hope appeared in the world as that baby grew into a man who would live a perfect life. Hope remained in the world because that man died on a cross for our sins. And Hope is the story we can profess because our Lord and Savior conquered death on that cross and broke every chain so that we might live forever with Him. 

We rejoice in that because He is good. We find that Hope and we cling to it even tighter, for we KNOW that our God is bigger and stronger and greater than we could ever imagine. We cling tight to that promise because we know even still that this is only the beginning of a beautiful story that He has written. 

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." 

-Hebrews 10:23

Plan on it.

If you had asked me 4 years ago what my plan was for my life, the chances of my answer being the same as today are the smallest percentage imaginable. Today I can stand confident in knowing what I want for my life, but I can only do so because I have a LORD who has blessed me with knowing what HE wants for my life. So long I held on to the control of my plans, I tried and tried to figure things out-maybe I would study psychology and be a social worker, or maybe go to law school and be a defense attorney, or maybe go to culinary school and open a bakery. Basically, I was full of ideas that were really only half-hearted attempts at pursuing passions that I thought I could nurture into lifetime commitments. And then the Lord literally had to ask me “Kellee, why are you not doing what you KNOW you are meant to do? Why are you not following what you love and learning how to be a teacher?” and to that I had no good response.

So I decided to go for the Education major, still thinking “Okay Lord, here we go. I will study to be a teacher, graduate, go back to nice, rich East Cobb and work in a nice school. Maybe meet a great guy, have a beautiful wedding, and have some sweet kids and a dog and a brick house with a huge yard and a porch swing. That will be nice Lord, thanks for the idea.” I’m not kidding when I say that is what I thought my life would be. I can tell you that yes, after my first visit to Kenya I did have a love for Africa already embedded in my heart, but I didn’t yet know how deep the Lord wanted that love to go. 

Obviously, I jumped on the next opportunity I had to go to Kenya, and when I came home I was absolutely wrecked. While I was there, the Lord spoke so clearly and so specifically to me that I was almost knocked over by His words. I came back KNOWING that He was calling me to teach in Kenya, knowing that the “perfect” looking plan I had created in my mind was NOTHING compared to the plan He had for me.

And so I began to walk closer and closer to Him. I learned that I had to CLING to the cross, CLING to His feet, CLING to His words, and CLING to the hope that He had given me. Because when I started to let go, when my grip loosened and I strayed (which of course I did because I am human and fallen and, let’s face it, we all stray), I became anxious about His will for my life. Those are the moments that I would sit in- not trusting, not knowing, questioning whether I knew what I was doing. And those are the moments that CONTINUALLY teach me about God’s FAITHFULNESS and absolute GRACE. 

I’ve learned that when I remember to trust my Lord, I am comfortable walking blindly. 

I’ve learned that when I walk WITH my Lord, I find peace. 

I’ve learned that when I ask my Lord, He won’t leave me empty handed and lost. 

I’ve learned that my Lord is a Shepard, and He will always find me, always tend to me, always call me close to His side. 

I’ve learned that life is about HIM-and if I sit and make my own plan, I am totally forgetting that. 

The thing I’ve learned the most? When you plan it out without Him, it won’t be the life you are meant to live—you can plan on that. 

Praise forever and a day

My God has promised me so much. And I forget so often to thank Him for that. 

Something I’m learning lately is to cling to HIM through absolutely everything. 

He is with me in the fiery furnace, He is with me in the lion’s den, He is with me in the darkness, in the pain, in the storm—BUT HE IS ALSO WITH ME IN EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD!

He is in moments of silence amid a busy day, He is in peace, He is in the hugs that I get every day and the smiles that I see on His children’s faces. He is EVERYWHERE. 

So yes, I will hold His hand, lean on Him, let Him carry me, let Him comfort me, let Him be my rock-I will also worship, I will fall flat on my face for Him, I will sing all of my days, I will spend time just sitting in His presence. Because He is SO WORTHY. 

I want to cling to Him in the good and the bad. I want to start and end every day with His name on my lips. I want to be a daughter that He is proud of. 

Praise Him that He reminds me of this. Praise Him that He has PROMISED me this. And praise Him that He loves me enough to call me His. 

Waiting on the next chapter

Let me tell you something—I hate waiting. 

Right now I am trying so hard to learn how to find joy in the times when my heart longs to go and my LORD says Wait. 

Do we all seek that at some point?

Often I have to check myself and wonder if I am following Him now or if I am just going through the motions and waiting to follow Him later.

Because here’s the thing- in a story there are many chapters. And if you skip a few just to find the one you want to read, chances are you will miss a part of the story that could be vital in understanding the ending. If you skip ahead, refuse to wait, keep turning pages without reading words- there is so much that will be missed. 

I have to remind myself of this SO often. Because I am ready for the next chapter, I am WAITING on the next chapter. But that doesn’t mean that right now, on this page, I shouldn’t find joy. 

Sometimes it is so easy to find happiness. There are so many things in my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Moments of laughter and pieces of fellowship and times of absolute and total surrender that I NEED to have. 

And then sometimes I want to rip this chapter out, pretend that it doesn’t exist and move straight on to one later on in the book. 

Sometimes I don’t feel like I would be sacrificing anything by skipping ahead. Sometimes I feel like EVERYTHING good in my story is later on, and so the next chapter is bound to be worth skipping a few pages for. 

Thank goodness I serve a God who is gracious enough to let me long for these things and to give me the strength to realize that I cannot miss the “now”. He is so good to me that He allows me to want to peek ahead and then gives me everything I need to stay put and find rest in where I am. He is faithful enough that He can say Wait and embed in my stubborn heart the knowledge that waiting WILL be worth it. 

So I cling to that in all the times, all the moments, all the seconds of all the days when I stand WAITING and wondering if there is a point in this chapter. I stand at the foot of the cross where my LORD is and He says “Yes, there is a point. Trust my hand. Let me lead. Live in the now—WAIT.”

Facedown.

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." - Psalm 25:4-5

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 3: 13-14

I’m going to be real honest and say that right now I am hurting. I am missing so many pieces of my heart that are thousands of miles away from me. I am missing so many faces of so many kids who I LOVE and ADMIRE and who I would give ANYTHING for. 

BUT, I am constantly reminded of how I need to fall FACEDOWN in front of my Lord and thank Him for what I have. I am constantly reminded of all that HE has given me. 

I can seek and find rest in the hope that I have in Him. A hope that He has spoken words into my heart, that He has set my feet upon a path that I can’t and won’t say no to. 

But this is the hard part. I have to wait. I have to sit here thousands miles away and wait for the time that He has set for me to GO. 

It hurts my heart to sit here. It hurts my heart to even have to finish school. Even when this is what I want, even when it’s what I know needs to be done. I want nothing more than to quit school, pack up, and peace out. 

And so I fight that every single day with the constant need to remind myself of the hope that I can find when I look at my Lord. I have to fall down in front of him over and over and over again begging for that hope to be enough. Begging for Him to make it hurt less to be so far from the rest of my heart. Praying and hoping that I can find Him and be closer and closer to Him when I am falling on my face. 

There is NOTHING else, NO ONE else that can fill the gap. When I meet HIm facedown, I find rest and hope and I find the strength to go one more and PUSH ON to the goal that is Christ, push on to the plan that He has for me, and push on, step by step, to make it back to where I long to be. 

pieces.

for my sister

Sometimes life will break you

tear you down

destroy you

It will leave you wondering

where you are

what you’re doing

how you can get through

You will feel like a shadow of yourself

wandering without purpose

moving without destination

living without being alive.

Hope can be found even in the darkness.

There is a rock on which you can stand,

a rock that will:

never fail

never move

never give up

never stop loving

never leave you

never desert you

never disappoint.

There is a rock who will hold you up

and help you through

and pick up the pieces of who you used to be,

the pieces of who you are,

and who will put you back together again.

delete.

Sometimes we need to press the delete button on a part of our lives that we don’t want to see disappear. 

It’s hard and it hurts to see it go, but sometimes it hurts more to let it stay. 

The thing is-even when you delete something, even when you erase it until it is no longer there- there will always be the remnants of what once was. 

You can see the eraser marks, you can close your eyes and picture what is missing, you can try and try and try to say:

I don’t miss that.

I’m not sad it’s gone.

But you won’t be telling the truth. 

Pressing the delete button is just the first step. 

It’s the re-write that follows that’s hard. 

The Scene

She stood at the edge of the scene, watching it play out just the way she knew it would. She had seen this movie before, had memorized the lines and knew what to expect. The reaction she felt was familiar-the need she felt to scream out “Stop! You’re making the wrong choice,” was something she had grown accustomed to. Yet as she stood watching, she knew that the scene would end just the same. 

She had a choice in that moment. She had seen this scene a million times, but only just now seen her role in it. She saw then that the girl she wanted to scream at was herself. Unlike the girl in the movie though, her end was not written. She did not have a script, there was no set role she had to step into. She realized then that only she held the power to make the change. Only she had the power in deciding to give her story a different ending. 

She saw everything flash before her eyes- all the heartbreak and all the laughter and all the times that she had lost pieces of who she was. She had spent so long trying to figure everything out, trying to put together a puzzle with missing pieces, trying to create a perfect scene out of a jumbled mess.

And then she saw that sometimes there is no easy way to display the scenes of life. Maybe you meet someone and they take hold of your heart in an instant. Maybe you push someone else away just to see if they’ll go. Maybe sometimes you fight so much for something only to feel it beginning to destroy you. Maybe you let go too easily of something just to realize you can never have it back. Maybe you break your own heart trying to keep it from getting broken. And maybe you find out the hard way that goodbye doesn’t mean you can let go and letting go doesn’t mean you can forget. 

But no matter what it was that brought her to that point, she was there. She stood on the edge of the scene, willing it to change, knowing fully that it wouldn’t. She did not have the power to change what had already been written. But as she watched on, she knew for certain that she had the power to give her story a different ending. She looked on for one last minute, knowing that what she was doing was right. Then, with one last look, she turned away from the scene that she knew, took a deep breathe, and stepped into the unknown.

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