Category Archives: Personal

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!!!

20 years a carney.

The last three weeks have been crazy. I was very sick for an entire week – in bed for three days straight with a high fever and awful cough which led to laryngitis and no voice for two days. Adam and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on the same day that we closed on a new house. Alaina was hit by a car the following week and then turned 13 two days later. (What?! That’s crazy. I agree.) Then Isaac woke up in the middle of the night Sunday night with a 103 degree fever that stayed around too long and hives all over his body and ended up being diagnosed with Roseola.

Because the three weeks leading up to Roseola weren’t enough.

So I’m pretending the last three weeks didn’t happen, which takes us back to my beloved Indiana State Fair. (Of course it does.)Main Street

I’ve shared so many times that I love the State Fair. A friend asked me this year why I loved it so much – and I just kept rambling on about the diversity, the animals (and the baby animals), the people-watching, the food, my kids’ pure enjoyment while we’re there.baby pigs and mama

But I then realized that one of the biggest reasons I love the fair so much is because my dear friend Will Tolbert lets me work at The Stand. The Elephant Ear Stand.

I love it so much. Getting to share my love for the fair with the thousands of people who order elephant ears and funnel cakes makes me so happy. They make me laugh and they join in with me. They irritate me and they’re rude to me sometimes too, but that’s what makes the fair so great. The diversity.

But I realized this year that I’d never work at any other stand at the fair. Because as much as I love the fair and working at the stand, it’s not just being a carney that I love so much. (Okay, so maybe it’s that a little bit…)

It’s the people and the fun and the love that’s INSIDE The Stand that makes it so wonderful. And it’s only that way because of the culture and space that my friend Will began creating 20 years ago. (Working at an elephant ear stand, even for only 17ish days a year, for 20 years, pretty much qualifies you as a for-real carney, am I right?)

Young Will

Young Will

I think he said it best: “20 years at the State Fair. It has been an amazing journey with a lot of my best friends and family. People often ask why I keep working… for me it’s because it’s a chance to spend time with some of my favorite people.”

A peek inside The Stand

A peek inside The Stand in 2015

I have met some of *my* favorite people because of The Stand. I get so excited to reconnect with my fellow stand carneys each year. I smile and laugh so much each night I work during the fair because of them. Will introduces me to new music (because I’m old and not cool anymore) and my very much younger “coworkers” try to keep me young by keeping me out till 5am after a night in The Stand. (It actually does the opposite. Do you know what being out till 5am does to a 37 year old mother of 4? Don’t find out. It now has a name – “The Island Fever.”)

So instead of reliving the last three weeks, I’m going to take a trip down State Fair memory lane and think of my happy days visiting with the kids and my fun, heart-warming nights in The Stand.Isaac

Where else do kids get to fire rifles?

Where else do kids get to fire rifles?

Come with me next year. And every year after. Soon enough, Alaina will be taking over for Will and me in The Stand. Because carney is a gene.

Alaina in 2011

Alaina in 2011

Thankful. And a plea.

I’m finally sitting down tonight with a bowl of ice cream and a beautiful cupcake delivered to my doorstep by dear friends this morning. It’s time for me to exhale and to process today and ice cream and chocolate cupcakes help me do that.

If you follow me on social media, you know that our oldest daughter Alaina, who turns 13 in just two days, was hit by a car while riding her bike to school this morning. She is okay. Banged up and scraped up with a black eye and really sore. But ALIVE. By the grace of God, she’s ALIVE and not seriously injured.Alaina ER

Ever since 7:43 am my mind has been racing with “what could have happened.” Getting a call that your daughter has been hit by a car makes for a daunting 6 block drive to the accident scene. Pulling up to see police cars and an ambulance is even more daunting. Seeing your daughter sitting on the sidewalk, beaten up, but ALIVE, is a breathtaking thing.

I don’t need to list the things that could have happened to Alaina that rolled through my mind today. You know them all. She had been wearing a helmet and following traffic signals as she should have been. But a driver, who was going to be late for work, was more concerned about making up time than fully obeying traffic laws and turned right on a red light without stopping, right into her at a busy intersection.

All he had to do was come to a complete stop at the light. It was red. All he had to do was stop as he is supposed to do by law and he wouldn’t have hit her. He was late, misinterpreted the situation and blew threw the light. His mistake could have taken my daughter’s life.

We’ve all been there. Running late to work or school or dinner and we quickly scan the traffic and make snappy decisions. The problem is that often our scanning of a situation is incorrect. We don’t see that person out of the corner of our eye. Or the car who has the right of way pulling out in front of us. OR THE CHILD ON THE BIKE RIDING TO SCHOOL.

My plea to you is to SLOW. DOWN. Please please please. I promise you that being 3 minutes late to work is better than being an hour late to work, being in trouble with the law and replaying the memory of you hitting a child with your car over and over in your head and having no idea if that child is okay.

Even if you don’t think you’re near a school, kids walk and ride bikes to school from a mile away each and every single day. Every single intersection is an intersection that a child might be going through on the way to school.

To the gentleman who hit Alaina this morning: we know you didn’t do it on purpose and we forgive you. It has placed a fear in our home that we won’t soon be rid of and a pit in my stomach that I won’t likely stop feeling for a long time.

And to the gentleman who was behind the driver who hit Alaina: thank you for stopping and being a witness and telling the police what happened. And for trying to be helpful to the kids who were riding with Alaina.

And to all of our family and friends who have come over, texted, emailed, responded over social media and to our school and school family, who showed up on the scene and texted me all morning – we feel so so loved and cared for and supported in ways that have far exceeded our expectations. We love you all. And couldn’t have made it through today as amazingly as we have without your support.

And God is good, friends. He protected Alaina and for that I am thankful.

We’re moving north!!

If you know me at all, you know that for the last 3+ years I’ve been searching for our next home. Not just a house even, but really trying to figure out where we belong in this city we call home. Where we feel God is calling us to live and love.

Many houses have come and gone. Really amazing houses and neighborhoods where I imagined us living and growing. Contracts signed and everything. And then something would happen and the contract would fall through. None of those houses worked. Some of those houses even came around for second tries and didn’t work again.

I was getting frustrated. Feeling like we wanted something cheaper (we bought this house when we only had Alaina and maybe would have one more… hahahaha…) and something that fit our (bigger than planned 10 years ago) family better but nothing panning out. I prayed and prayed and felt led every time and every time questioned what the heck was “THE” plan if this wasn’t it.

Well my friends, I now know. We’re buying a new house, closing in just 11 short days (fingers crossed) and I can’t wait to share the journey with you! Here’s a picture of the house we’ll make our new home.New House BEFORE

Want to know where it is?

Right next door. To the north of our adjacent lot. 🙂

It’s perfect. We get to stay in our neighborhood that we love and we get to keep our yard that we love by swapping the fence to the other side of the yard.

I’ll share more about the details of the house and our plans shortly, but I wanted to give you a quick insight into one reason why I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

And now I’m off to bed so that I can spend tomorrow at the State Fair. It’s the most wonderful time of year…

I am a free-range parent.

We live on the north side of downtown Indy. There are builders selling $600k+ homes on my block. There are thriving schools in my neighborhood. A street scene bursting with trendy, small, local eateries and businesses.Pretty neighborhood

There is also a Pathway to Recovery house in our neighborhood. There are strangers walking the sidewalks all day and all night. Sometimes they even knock on our door at night or rummage through our trash cans for things that aren’t trash to them. I have called the police to report expected drug sales in one of the apartments in the house north of ours. I have heard gunshots more times than I can count in the almost 10 years we’ve lived in this house.

We chose to live here because it’s diverse. It’s urban. It’s close to work and school and friends and fun. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable. That’s a good thing.

We let our kids walk to the park. Without us.

We let them ride their bikes around the block. Without us.

We let them play in the backyard for hours. Without us.

We let them ride their bikes to school. Past a run-down Dollar General, an even more run-down Family Dollar and don’t forget the corner liquor store. Crossing three busy streets besides the five normal city streets on the way.

And let me tell you, if someone EVER calls CPS reporting my children doing any of those things, I will fight back with everything I have. I’m warning you now. BRING. IT.

Let me repeat that we CHOSE to live in the city. Where it’s diverse and different and not perfect. And since we’ve made this choice, we’re also raising our kids with street smarts that most children significantly lack these days. I’m not talking inner-city, ghetto street smarts. I’m talking the street smarts we all grew up with that used to be NORMAL. No one called our parents “free range” back then.

Remember when we played outside till it was dark? Alone? Our parents didn’t even really know where we were, just that we were in the neighborhood (because that was our boundary area) and we’d be back by the time the street lights came on. We made friends with the kids riding their bikes through our streets and could tell if they were “good kids” or “bad kids” all on our own. No one was calling CPS on any of us for being out alone.

I can’t wait to see the young ladies and gentlemen that my kids become! Because they are being raised as independent kids who understand living in a diverse area and are learning how to have fun without me (GASP!) and be smart about and kind to the people in our ‘hood (GASP!) and get dirty in the dirt (GASP!)Dirty and climb to the top of the playset and go down the big-kid slide before they’re two (GASP!) Top of the slideand they can get dressed by themselves and put on their own shoes and can actually carry on a REAL! LIFE! CONVERSATION! with an adult!

My kids don’t need me (or for that matter, want me) to hold their hands all the time. They have a kind of independence that makes them feel confident in who they are and where we live. We aren’t dumb – we know there are dangers in our community, just like there are in yours. (Can you even believe that a teen was stabbed in Fishers?! And you thought that only happened in the hood right by mine, didn’t you? 😉 ) That’s why we teach our kids to stay together and to know the signs of things that aren’t safe.

But tonight, my 8 year-old chose to hold my hand walking into Walmart. She knows what to be scared of.

Plus, who has the energy to be a helicopter parent anyways? Phew. I’m tired enough letting my kids do everything on their own…

 

 

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.

Calling foul play on the 2015 NCAA selection committee

Remember when I told you how much we love college basketball and March Madness? Well, tonight I’m calling foul play on the NCAA selection committee.

(And not because IU actually made the tournament. That’s a whole other question in itself. And yes, I am an IU graduate and fan and I even don’t understand how they made it.)

Indiana is known for basketball. It’s a great thing for the state and it’s super fun to be part of. Especially when the championship Final Four takes place in your city and there’s so much fun happening. (Go Indy!!) But what isn’t super fun is when the selection committee puts ALL FIVE Indiana teams in the SAME region. And on top of that, puts them in the same region as Kentucky, the tourney favorite and outright number one team in the nation.

Selection committee following their placement of all 5 Indiana teams in the same Region. With Kentucky: "Yay! We did it! We found another way to make more money!"

Selection committee following their placement of all 5 Indiana teams in the same Region. With Kentucky: “Yay! We did it! We found another way to make more money!”

IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Valparaiso and Butler – all Indiana schools in the big dance. All seeded in the Midwest region of the bracket. That’s 5 of the 16 teams in the Midwest region being Indiana teams (and 100% of Indiana teams I will remind you). And by the looks of it, not a single one of them will advance to the Final Four (remember, taking place in their own state) unless they beat an undefeated Kentucky team.

You may be thinking “But none of the Indiana teams could make it to the Final Four anyway!” But I think you’re wrong. Notre Dame has only lost 5 games this season, is ranked 11th in the nation and won the ACC title. Notre Dame has a legitimate chance at making it to the Final Four. And how amazing would it be to play in your state?! Just a couple hours south of campus?!

But see, that’s exactly it. While the NCAA doesn’t release financial information about ticket sales and host city revenues from the Final Four tournament, it’s OBVIOUS that having at least one local school in your Final Four is going to bring in less money than if Kentucky and Duke are battling it out in your city. Because those fans have to (AND WILL) drive and stay overnight, eat, drink and play in your city for the ENTIRE weekend. But Notre Dame fans could easily commute for a game or stay with family and friends who live in Indy, drastically decreasing the amount of money spent in Indy and on NCAA merchandise.

What other reason does the selection committee have for putting ALL FIVE INDIANA TEAMS IN THE SAME REGION? And with KENTUCKY? It seems pretty black and white to me.

Or maybe GREEN is a better color comparison…