My Home

Dear Kaleo Family,

Thank you for everything! You have blessed me with a community beyond my wildest dreams! You have shown me the ins and outs of foster care. You have helped me wrestle with, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” You have prayed for me. You have called me out when I was in the wrong. And, you have taught me how to love with complete abandon.

From the always memorable Kaleo Kamps

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to the wisdom-filled women’s retreats.

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From a hilarious wedding flash mob

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to a beautiful new building.

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From countless Sunday gatherings to family dinners, birthday parties to meaningful conversations, group runs to kids galore (75+ with more on the way!) you sure know how to enjoy God’s big, beautiful world!

I will miss every single one of you more than words can express! I know, however, that no matter where God sends me, Kaleo will always be my home. Keep in touch, and I’ll see you in November!

Love,

College Girl Kelly

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Unconditional Beauty

Little known fact about me: I wish I was African American. I love their incredibly beautiful skin and amazing hair! But this blog post is not about race. That’s another discussion for another time.

At the camp where I work there is a different group of campers every week. This week the campers are a group of middle schoolers, and they are quite ethnically diverse. This morning while I was washing dishes I was admiring the beautiful African Americans, secretly wishing I had dark skin like them.

Later in the day I went into the bathroom on my break to find four of the gorgeous African American girls in there. I went into a stall, and the girls began to talk very negatively about their bodies. One would point out something she didn’t like (my thighs are huge,) and another one would try to one-up her (do you see my stomach?) They compared how much they weighed, and argued about if they were fat or not. As I listened, my heart was breaking for these beautiful girls.

It was odd to me. I wanted to look like them, with their stunning dark skin and amazing hair. They wanted to look like me, with my 5’3 1/2″ height and petite frame. None of us were satisfied with what we’d been given.

Love Yourself

The girls left the bathroom, and as I came out to wash my hands my heart ached for them. I longed to make a big sister move and tell them how God sees them, but the moment didn’t present itself, and deep in my heart I knew that I struggle with a poor self-image just like they do. I don’t bemoan my thighs, but I do belittle my face. I don’t loathe my stomach, but I do lament my feet. How am I any different from them?

Then God hit me with a profound realization. Just as my heart broke for those beautiful middle school girls, God’s heart breaks for beautiful me. Soul punch right there! God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13.) To him, I have unconditional beauty, and when I refuse to accept that, it breaks his heart.

I want to stop breaking God’s heart. I’m tired of my poor self-image. I know changing how I see myself will not be easy. I’ve fought this battle before, and honestly, I have yet to win. Our society likes to define beauty as something unattainable. To make matters worse, Satan hates beauty, and manipulates it in any way he can. The odds are not in my favor. And yet, this war is worth fighting. With God on my side, I may lose this battle, but I won’t lose the war.

Simple Prayer

I’m going to start with praying this prayer and end with finally seeing my beauty as it is: unconditional. Who’s with me?

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Sweetly Broken

This summer has been challenging. Unlike previous summers, it hasn’t felt carefree or relaxing. Some of the difficulty has come from being in the middle of a transition period. In 28 days I’m moving away from all I’ve known to go to college. Most people can’t believe that it’s already August because that means summer is coming to a close. I can’t believe it’s already August because that means I’m leaving this month! But although I leave so soon, I can’t leave yet. Waiting is hard. I’ve been working towards going to college all year long, and yet I’m still stuck in the bittersweet in-between. Transition seasons are always messy and tough. This one is no exception.

I’ve also encountered other difficulties this summer. My family is still waiting for our adoption to move forward, (See Mountains) and I’ve been working 4-5 days a week on staff at a camp. My job is a huge blessing, but I feel like I’m missing out on so much valuable time with my family and friends. I know having a job is part of being an adult, but it has definitely made me realize that my childhood is over, and that is hard to process. Individually, these struggles might be manageable, but put together they’ve left me feeling incredibly worn.

Through all these trials, I’ve been trying so hard to trust God. I’ve been striving and straining, and working as hard as I can, yet I’ve been failing at every turn. Last night, however, God met me right where I was, and helped me back onto my feet.

For the past two years I’ve attended a life-changing summer camp called Collide. This year I was too old to be a camper, but last night I had the privilege of going to camp for the evening worship service. Let’s just say I’m coming to a fuller understanding of the beauty of being sweetly broken.

For the first hour of the service I worshipped, and listened, and prayed, but nothing life-altering happened. Then, towards the end of his message, the speaker talked about how much God loves us. His words hit me full force. God’s love is at the core of everything good, yet I so easily forget how much he loves me. When the worship band began to play How He Loves, tears streamed down my face. I feel like I’ve been holding in my emotions all summer. I’ve been trying so hard to be strong. I’ve been searching for a formula that would enable me to make it through this season. Do this every day, don’t eat that, sleep for this long, just say that, don’t forget to pray about this, and then you’ll be ok. It’s exhausting! When I mess up, my self-confidence takes a hit. When I succeed, I become prideful. God never intended for me to live this way. He wants me to be confident, yet humble. My strength will fail, but his won’t. My plans won’t succeed, but his will. On my own, I’ll never make it, but I am not alone. He has broken through my tough exterior with his radical grace and love, and I am free. None of my struggles have gone away, but God loves me, and that is enough.

You Are Loved