Category Archives: Faith

Kenya Part 2 of lots

There are so many things I want to share with you about my trip to Kenya. I shared bits and pieces last week, but tonight I want to focus on the children in Kibera and how you might be able to help them.

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I’m going to inundate you with pictures. Because I’m a firm believer that you can see true life in someone’s eyes. These children have eyes like I’ve never seen before. They sparkle with wonder and questions and joy and love and laughter.

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They want to learn and be loved. They want to play and be silly and sing you songs. And they want to feel safe. Which is exactly what they find at school each day. Teachers who love them so much that they feel safe within the campus walls.

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Which is kinda crazy, to be honest. Because Kibera is anything but safe. Where extreme poverty like you have never seen is the only thing these children know. I promise you that you don’t know real poverty until you have smelled it. Where nine gang members had to walk us in and out of the slum each and every day we were there to keep us safe. Where the police shoot through babies to kill the men holding them up as shields. Where crime and sin run rampant.

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But they JOY!! The joy these children have because they know they are KNOWN and LOVED and SAFE and will be FED inside these school walls is UNREAL. They are taught book and common sense. They are expected to excel. And their SOULS are fed. Each and every day. And that’s the reason they are filled with so much hope.

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School is not free in Kenya. There’s no public neighborhood school that your kids automatically go to just by registering them in August. So for children in Kibera, where people live on less than $1 a day, there are a few other things that take precedence over your school tuition. Like food.

If you do go to primary school, you take a national exam in 8th grade to qualify to attend secondary school (high school), which will cost three times the pricetag of primary school. You have to get a C+ on that exam to go to secondary, and that grade also tells you where you can apply to school. Better exam grade gets you into a better secondary school. Got lower than a C+? Too bad. You don’t get to go to secondary. Can you even imagine being 14 and knowing that your future has taken such a DRASTIC turn?

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There are over 20 children at this school who still need sponsors. It’s $30 a month and $27 of that goes DIRECTLY to the school. (All is tax-deductible.) Sponsorship helps cover education, daily hot meal for the child, food vouchers for the family and some medical care for the child. Kenyan staff checks in regularly on the family and child, and they are invited to participate in church/school activities. Kids in this program are currently in elementary and secondary school but our hope is to help each child go as far as they can academically, knowing education is such a key part of breaking the cycle of poverty.

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And there’s a really good chance that I met the child you decide to sponsor. He or she probably pet my mzungu hair or hugged me or laughed at me trying to read their Swahili book or chased me through the “halls” of the school campus. I promise you each of the kids has a special place in my heart that I will share with you when you become a sponsor.

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Join me in giving these kids a bit of a kickstart. Help them have a chance to go to secondary and UNIVERSITY! Imagine how these children will change the face of Kibera and Nairobi!! These children, who I have hugged with my very own arms, need your help. I’m not going to be shy about asking you to help them. The tragedies they have already overcome are something I will not share publicly on this forum. But they are real and these kids deserve better. They deserve the love and support they receive at school.

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Just look at them. They are SO thankful for their sponsors. Because they wouldn’t have the joy and hope in their eyes if it wasn’t for this school and what they have learned there about their importance in the world. They have learned that they are just as important as you are. You were just born into a different family in a different neighborhood. That’s the primary and most significant difference between you and them. And I promise you that one hug from a single child in that school and you’d wish you were with them forever.

IMG_8361If you’d like to sponsor one of these kids, please email my dear friend and travel companion Cindy Neal with Kenya Mercy Ministries at cindy@kenyamercyministries.org. Or talk to me and I’ll put in you in touch with Cindy as well. Can’t afford $30 a month? Pair up with another person or family to sponsor a child. Want to offer more than $30 a month? SAWEEEET! 😉 We have some students who will be attending secondary next year and like I mentioned above, secondary costs about $100/month per student.

Let’s get some kids sponsored, yes?

 

 

SPOTLIGHT: A trip to Kenya

Holy cow, it’s been FOUR MONTHS since I last posted.

Yikes.

But I’m back with important news, friends! I’m heading to NAIROBI, KENYA in March!!image3

I’ve wanted to go to Africa for many, many years. The first chance I had to go was over 10 years ago, when a friend at church was putting together a trip that happened to fall on the same week as our annual family vacation with my parents. So I (heartbreakingly) opted not to go, which was actually a blessing because I found out I was pregnant with Cameran shortly after and I would have been due the same week.

But ever since then I’ve been dreaming of how I would get there. I’ve been relentless with my dear friend Sarah (of JabuAfrica, you should check them out here) to take me with her and the stars just haven’t aligned.

Until now.

My friend Cindy (the same friend who was taking a group from my church 10 years ago) invited me to travel with her on a vision trip for Kenya Mercy Ministries to a slum of Nairobi called Kibera. Kenya Mercy Ministries (KMM) exists to financially support the Mamlaka Foundation whose mission is to serve the urban poor in Kenya, under the direction of Imbumi and Martha Makuku.image2I have heard the Makuku’s speak a few times and they are truly amazing people doing amazing things for God’s people. Here’s an excerpt about them from the KMM website:

In 2002, (Imbumi) began the Kibera Reformed Presbyterian Church (KRPC) in the poorest section of the Kibera slum, Silanga Village.

Since then, the Makuku’s ministry, under the Mamlaka Foundation, has expanded to include a school, feeding program, and health education outreach at the church, as well as the purchase of land outside the slum that includes a guest house, the Shunem Family Home (a place where they could safely house children, mostly girls, who were in extremely bad situations of abuse or abandonment), a ‘farmhouse,’ vegetable gardens, livestock, gristmill, and most recently, the Hope Community Church.

The ministry is not an easy one.  Imbumi describes Kibera as “degrading, undignified, and having no privacy. It is the rape capital of Kenya. Sin is out there in its raw form. It is not hidden. It is all there right before your eyes. If God is not with you, you are a ‘sitting duck’ for Satan. The enemy will get you very, very quickly. Ministering in a slum as a pastor is not easy. It can be very lonesome. The opposition from the enemy is very, very fierce. It is Satan’s domain where he rules in all his power and where as you enter in, you feel very oppressed. Even after being in the slum for only a few hours, you come out feeling like you have been in a boxing ring. You come out very physically and spiritually drained. It is because Satan will not let his people, his captives go very easily. He will do everything possible to make sure that those people do not come to Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the world.”

So why Kibera? For some reason I’ve always felt a pull to Africa during my adult years. I think it’s partially because I have a heart for people who are screwed by their history, whether it be crappy parents or a corrupt government. And those kids’ faces, they just put a smile on my face and an ache in my heart. And I want to help them.image1So that’s what I’m doing. Our team is going to Kibera to work with the Makuku’s to figure out how to send the kids in their lower school to high school. Kibera is one of the poorest communities in Kenya and education is one of the greatest keys to breaking the cycle of poverty. In addition, high school is up to three times as expensive as the lower school, which could quickly become a financial burden on KMM  – something we don’t want to happen.

I can’t wait to tell you their stories. Show you their faces. Figure out how to fund high school education. (Isn’t that crazy?! That we’re having to FIGURE OUT HOW TO FUND HIGH SCHOOL for these Kenyan children?! Did you know there are over 80 high schools just in Indianapolis alone? I’ll gladly take my school choice problems over Kibera’s education problems any day.)image4

Want to help? One way you can help is by directly sponsoring a child through KMM by clicking here. It’s $30/mo and $27 of that goes directly to Mamlaka Foundation for the school. There are about 20 kids who are in need of a sponsor right now.

Or you can support my trip. I’m hoping to raise $1,800 to fund the trip. Thanks to a surprising and generous donation of $1,000, I have $800 left to meet my goal. You can email me at katieunscripted @ gmail.com if you’d like to support me financially. And our team would LOVE your prayers – for safety, clear guidance, patience and extra love and grace for the children and the KMM team already in Kibera.

I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip. 🙂 I’ll be returning 2 months from today!!!

Religious Freedom & Jesus

Oh friends, it’s interesting once again to be living in Indiana. It’s finally Spring and it is was 26 degrees this morning. Tomorrow’s high is 64 and then it’s supposed to drop back down to 36 for a few days before it gets back to “normal” temps.

But that forecast is actually pretty normal for the beginning of Spring in Indiana.

What has been interesting this last week is this controversial religious freedom bill that has passed through the state Senate and House and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor this week. I will say upfront that I’m not well-versed enough on the bill to comment about whether I agree with it or not. All I’ve read is what has been in the news and part of the actual bill I tried to read last night but couldn’t get past the first two pages of legal verbiage that confused me more than anything. I will also say upfront that I don’t believe people should be denied service because of their sexual preference or their physical appearance.

But what I want to talk about tonight are the responses I’m reading all over social media about the passing of the bill. Most people are outraged. Most people disagree with the bill. Many are kind of freaking out about it. Many are talking about the fiscal ramifications of this bill due to companies, conventions, etc. pulling out of deals with Indiana directly because of this bill.

But more importantly, the response that has bashed my God.

See, my biggest issue with the bill (as I’ve read) is that it’s about RELIGION. It’s not about Jesus. And that’s what I want to stress : IT’S NOT ABOUT JESUS. My God, My Jesus, he didn’t cover his ass with a religious freedom bill so he wouldn’t lose his business by getting sued because he wouldn’t bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. He loved his neighbors. Even if he didn’t agree with their actions. He loved them. He ate with them.

He wouldn’t have turned away a young unmarried couple who were expecting a baby together.

He wouldn’t have turned away someone who didn’t believe and act exactly as he did.

He wouldn’t have turned away me. A sinner for so many reasons.

Do you see now that this bill isn’t about my God? It’s about people who are afraid of people who are different. It’s about those who don’t know how to love others well. People who are misguided about what God’s love is and how they should pass it along.

So today I might not be proud of this religious freedom bill, but I will be proud of who I know Jesus to be and how he loved so well. And how he calls us to love just the same. So love well friends. If we love others well, regardless of our differences, everything will work itself out.

And businesses owned by people who don’t love well will fail. Of that I am sure.

in the dark

it seems fitting that Isaac is kind of a mess tonight. Sleeping poorly. Bursts of tears. Wanting to be comforted but then quickly feeling the need to stretch out on his mattress and not be bound by my lap and arms. And then starting the cycle all over again 20 min later.

It was a long day for me. I felt a similar feeling of being unsettled or uncomfortable or just wanting the opposite of whatever was happening.

As I was sitting in Isaac’s dark room earlier I tried to take a picture but this is all the phone camera would capture. in the dark

Instead of a dark room filled with glimpses of light from an ark nightlight illuminating a little boy, who just couldn’t figure how to feel settled, being rocked by his tired momma, it shows only darkness. It feels lonely.

and as I showered before coming to bed tonight, I was thinking of this picture. What I could see and wanted to capture, was instead dark and alone. And I realized that the reason today has been so hard is because I was trying to do it all alone.

I woke up and started my day and I don’t remember once asking for God’s help. So tomorrow I start by simply asking God to be with me every step of the way. I think I’ll finish tonight with the same praye since Isaac has been crying on and off for the last 2 hours. I think I’ll need it.

Lies, comparisons and Mother’s Day

I’m not gonna lie – today has been hard. For some reason this Mother’s Day just didn’t feel right.

My oldest never once told me “Happy Mother’s Day.”

I was up at 6:15am with a feverish baby, so no sleeping in and no breakfast in bed. Alaina said to me about 8:15am: “We would have made you breakfast if you would have slept in longer.” Um, thanks.

Because of feverish baby, just the girls and I went to church (which was actually really wonderful, one of the highs of my day). We didn’t go out to dinner, but ordered Chinese take-out for me and Alaina and Adam got him and the other two burgers & fries. Not quite the Mexican and margarita I had been craving and looking forward to all week.

And so tonight I decided to run to McD’s for a hot fudge sundae and as I ordered, the intercom guy told me the ice cream machine wasn’t working. So I settled for a Frosty from Wendy’s, which is not what I wanted, but is helping a bit.

Here’s the thing: it’s not just the list above that made today hard. It’s the comparison I made to how the kids treat Adam.

I know, don’t go there, but already gone…

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. the kids run to Adam when he walks in the door from work, fighting for who will get the first hug, screaming “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” EVERY. SINGLE. FATHER’S DAY. they are planning on what they want to do for him for weeks in advance. Wanting to make cards and bouncing idea after idea off me of what we could get for him. They tell him “Happy Father’s Day” several times during the day.

I can’t remember when someone ran to me when I walked in the door for any other reason than to ask me if they could have a snack or have screen time. (Okay, so Isaac is always happy to see me, but he doesn’t really count in this.) And I didn’t get a single handmade card other than the ones daycare made my boys make for me.

Maybe this only happens at my house. Maybe I’m the only one making the comparison and feeling let down and saddened by it.

But I doubt it. I bet I’m not the only one feeling this way tonight.

So here’s what I really want to share. The most important part of this entire post. READ ONLY THIS IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE: Don’t find your worth in your kids. Find it in who God made you to be, in His image, in His love, perfectly YOU. Because you will always be disappointed if you find your worth in anything else. Your kids will fail you. Your spouse will fail you. Your parents will fail you. Your friends will fail you. YOU will fail you.

Praying that I would learn to find my worth in Jesus and not in people or things is the only thing that saved me today. I prayed it over and over. Over and over I kept going back to wondering if Alaina would wish me “Happy Mother’s Day” and over and over I had to keep reminding myself that my worth comes from the Lord. The maker of heaven and earth.

Don’t believe the lies you hear in your head. The comparisons you draw. Let me speak truth to you before I finish: You are loved by a divine and perfect father who loves you for every ounce of who you are. 

Find your worth in *that* alone. He will not fail you. Not once.

 

(I didn’t write this as a woe-is-me type of post. Please don’t take it that way. I just needed to be honest about today and know I’m not the only one who probably felt this way today.)

‘Tis the season…

There’s only 10 more days until Christmas. TEN DAYS. Yikes.

Right before Thanksgiving, I was really looking forward to this holiday season. I was excited about visiting our parents, shopping, buying a tree and decorating our home for Christmas. And then I started to feel totally overwhelmed when I realized all I had to accomplish in the less than 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That overwhelming feeling pushed me into a crappy place, which was worsened by the dark cold winter that so quickly fell upon Indy. I started going to bad places, taking things out on my kids and myself. Being short with people I love and even shorter with people I don’t.

And then this happened.larry santa (929x742)

We don’t push Santa at our house. Only our stockings and one present come from Santa. If our kids ask, we tell the truth. But we never stop playing Santa because it’s fun and special. 

There’s something special about Santa. There’s something special about *this* Santa.

When we left the first church home we had in Indianapolis about a year and a half ago, it was rough. I struggled with many things – leaving the only church home we had ever really had. We left a community in which we felt very comfortable, knowing so many people and being known by so many as well. The location was even in our neighborhood, which meant many of our neighbors were not only our physical community but also our spiritual community. But it was time for us to move on.

Walking into a new church is never fun. It’s something we had been putting off for quite awhile before we actually make the move. It’s uncomfortable. It’s new. It’s isolating. You question whether or not it’s the right choice. The right place for you. The best fit. And you walk into a new church over and over while searching for that right place and best fit.

And when you finally find the right place, it’s still uncomfortable, new and sometimes isolating. Even a year later.

But then Santa comes to your community group.

Friends, we have been very blessed to find our new home. We’ve been placed in a church with all these new and different people whose names we still don’t know but we’ve found a small group of amazing men and women in all different walks of life and in all different places with God. They have turned our new church into more than just our new church. They’ve turned it into a family. One I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find after leaving our last church family.

What does Santa have to do with any of this? Well, “Santa” is a member of our community group and when he showed up this week to group to surprise the kids, Lucas ran at top speed to him and literally jumped into his arms. I almost cried. I so wish I had it on tape. It was total abandon. Leaping into the arms of someone who truly loves him. It was so beautiful and it reminded me of how loved I am by the people around me and by God. And it totally changed my outlook on being overwhelmed.

I’m still overwhelmed – I still have SO MUCH SHOPPING to do. So much work to do with the end of the year approaching. So much cleaning from slacking for too long. No lie – I’m still overwhelmed. But it’s not consuming. I’m trying to enjoy the season with my kids. To not only give love and good parenting, but to give some grace where I normally wouldn’t. Because I’m given grace every day. And my kids won’t learn what grace is if they aren’t shown it.

So at Target tonight I enjoyed shopping for the kids. I thought about how much each would love the things I was picking out for them. I thought about the joy we’d see on Christmas morning.

And I thought about how many people love me and my family. And it made me happy for the hustle and bustle of the season. So I’m going to embrace it. Join me?

Consumed

My friend Katy’s two month old daughter Shaundi died unexpectedly yesterday. Her pain? I can only imagine.

It’s consuming almost every thought of mine, from the moment I read her words “Please, please pray like you’ve never prayed before” on Tuesday night.

I can’t stop praying for Katy.

I can’t stop cringing every time I lay Isaac down to sleep, praying he’ll wake up.

I can’t stop feeling this horrible sickness in my stomach, chest and throat.

I can’t stop crying for her family.

I can’t stop any of this. I can’t bring Shaundi back.

A dear friend texted me this morning. I had shared all of this with her last night and she was praying for me and for Katy and she wanted to share with me part of her devotional from “Jesus Calling.” I wanted to share it with you as well, because even though I don’t understand why things like this happen, I know there’s only one way through it:

“I am your Best Friend, as well as your King. Walk hand in hand with Me through your life. Together we will face whatever each day brings: pleasures, hardships, adventures, disappointments. I can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams. I can glean Joy out of sorrow, Peace out of adversity.”

Sometimes really crappy things happen. Friends get cancer. Babies die. I won’t pretend to understand any of it, because I don’t. I won’t pretend that it’s right, because it’s wrong. I won’t pretend that I don’t doubt my God, because it wouldn’t be true. But I have to believe that there is redemption somewhere in it. Because if I don’t believe, there is no hope.

And right now, in this very moment, I will rejoice that Isaac is already awake from a very short nap, rather than be annoyed. Because he is AWAKE. And ALIVE. And I will be thankful.

 

If you’d like to help Katy’s family financially, please click on the “Love for Shaundi” ad to the right and donate there.