Part 2: Being There

Excerpts from my Journal while Traveling

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12/13/2014
Day 4

“Lord, You are the master craftsman. You have made everything I have seen and been in awe of. I know that You can heal mom and give her a long, full earthly life.
I also know that mom is tired, and that she is looking forward to her long, full heavenly life with You.
Whatever she decides through this process, help us to be understanding and at peace.

Please teach me to be humble and obedient. Help me to really listen to Your words and to be sensitive to go where you lead.
Give me a longing for ‘the least of these’ and a heart so full of compassion that standing still simply isn’t an option.

I know your timing is perfect, though it makes no sense to me.”

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12/16/2014

Day 6

“… when we got back to the village our hosts wanted to hear more about the Living God. I got to share about how Jesus was born, how he lived, died and how he rose again so that we could live with Him forever. I got to share about how this news took away my fear of death and gave me hope for a future.
And then it was like someone else started talking even though it was my voice, and they were sharing about things in my life that felt far too personal to be sharing with total strangers whom didn’t even speak my language.
I started talking about mom and what my family is currently walking through. I shared about how mom is not afraid of the possibility of death and about how I have hope and peace despite my sadness because I know I have an eternity to spend with her after death.”

I never had any intention of sharing my situation, but obviously God had other plans. It felt so weird to say those things out loud, and even as I was saying them I wasn’t really believing that things were going to work out the way they did.

We went to a lot of villages and came home with a million stories, but this will always be the one that I remember the most. It taught me about vulnerability. It reminded me that, even though we often times feel like we need to hide the hard parts of our lives and only let people in on the good, that is not how God intended us to do life.

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It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to pretend like I am not sad when I am. The beauty of doing life with Christ is that there is joy even in the pain. I am thankful that God gave me an opportunity to share what was going on in our lives with people on the other side of the world who have never heard of a hope beyond this life, or a peace that surpasses all understanding, or joy regardless of circumstance. So I will end this blog the same way I ended my journal that day,

“Lord, I pray that the words You gave us today would take root in the hearts of the people we shared with.
I pray that they would have an unquenchable desire to hear more
and that You would send someone to tell them more.”

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Part 1: Deciding to Go

I can remember the last “normal” day that I had pretty well.

At least normal is how it began…

It was Friday. I love Fridays. It means the end of stressful schedules and ensuring two days of bliss in the company of the worlds best husband. I was especially excited for this specific Friday because we were getting ready to drive to OKC to spend the night before we left the country for a three week trip on the other side of the world.

I had just gotten off work and was headed to the store for some last minutes supplies before we embarked on our newest adventure. I was pulling in to my least favorite place in any small town and getting ready to park while proceeding through a mental checklist to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As I pulled into my parking spot I got a text from my mom.

“Just letting you know I am at the hospital getting platelets. What time are you guys leaving tomorrow?”

I didn’t think much of it right that moment so I went into walmart and started doing my shopping.

**Sidenote; my mom was diagnosed with Meylodysplastic syndrome about 2 and a half years ago. She had a successful bone marrow transplant about 6 months later (my dates may be off slightly). You can read more about that here, here, and here.**

As I was walking through Walmart I started processing the text.. Mom was getting platelets. She hadn’t needed platelets since before her transplant. Why would she be getting platelets? I was slightly frantic as I walked through walmart. I was losing my cool, which was strange because I am normally pretty in-control of my tear ducts. I called my husband and told him about the text as tears streamed down my face in the middle of the camping aisle at Walmart. Eventually I pulled myself together, checked out, and called the one person every girl calls when they freak out or have a complete meltdown.
My mom.
My dad answered and I asked what was going on. His voice cracked as he handed the phone to my mom,
and I braced myself. 

Mom told me that her last appointment hadn’t gone quite as expected.

She had been diagnosed with leukemia. Chemo would buy some time and from what I understood that was our only option.


Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked because I guess in retrospect there were a few signs pointing to the idea that she may not be recovering as she should have, but I was. I was shocked. The news totally threw me off my game.

I drove home and could not even pull all the way into the carport before totally losing it. I found Clint and sobbed for a good hour before remembering that we were supposed to be in the car driving to OKC.

It was probably the longest drive of my life.

6 hours of off and on tears full of fear for what may lie ahead.
My mom told me she still wanted me to go on my trip and even though I was extremely reluctant, I went.

I decided to go.
I decided to go and it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.


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Round 2!

As many of you know by now we got two more kid’s!!! =)

This one happened a little more quickly than the last placement. Last time around we had about a week to prepare, this time we about 24 hours.

Here is what I can tell you. We have a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. They are siblings.
He is quite active, and has a small speech delay. So we often have to guess at what he is trying to say to us, which is fun until he gets frustrated.
She is a little more quiet, and also has a small speech delay. She is a little bit easier to understand most of the time.
Personally, I think the speech thing just makes them that much more adorable, but it’s something we are working on anyway =). The coolest part about this is that I got a job in November working for Early Childhood Interventions, so I’m learning all about the best ways to help kids with developmental delays! God always knows what He is doing.

Here is the kicker: neither of them are potty trained.
This is new territory. I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m just crossing my fingers that the school district will enroll them anyway! Luckily we have an extra long weekend to start working on that. So if you have any tips or tricks for kids who don’t mind sitting in wet underwear (as I discovered today) pleaseeeee share!!!!!

They are pretty happy kids, we don’t have a lot of meltdowns or tantrums (so far), which is really nice! It means we have a lot more time to do fun things. I will leave you with a photo (without faces because that’s not allowed =/).

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I took this after I told them they could each choose one stuffed animal to take in the car… Clever Boy.
Also I wish I could show you the whole picture, because the cheesy grins that are happening here are WAY too much to handle, also the princess came out in a red knit hat and some pink princess sunglasses that Mimi bought for our foster room awhile back. She wears them everywhere, even inside.

As always, thanks for reading!

Kels

5 Reasons I am Glad I Got Married When I Did

I recently read a blog about why it is good to get married young. It was a very good article and it got me thinking about my marriage and its timing. I got married about a month after i turned 22, my husband was about a month away from turning 22. The pastor who married us (an extremely wise man) asked us to make a list, 10 reasons why this was the person we were supposed to marry, and 10 reasons why now was the time we were supposed to get married. The first one was really easy, I came up with 10 reasons Clint was “the one” in no time at all, but the timing list was much more difficult. I had never really thought about it, but after a couple days of racking my brain this was the list I compiled:

1. We have been together long enough to see each others personalities change and learn how to deal with it.

2. We have been dating for 4 years and I am running low on patience

3. Clint graduates in December and we want a summer wedding.

4. After his trip I knew God had equipped him with that he needed to be a spiritual leader for our marriage.

5. We have realized how much more God can do with us for His kingdom if we are together acting as one.

6. We want the rest of our adventure to be together!

7. We are finally both at the point in our lives where we are willing to let God take the reins.

8. After a lot of prayer, I only feel a peace about our wedding date.

9. Because I have spent more time praying and thinking about life after the wedding than about the wedding itself.

10. Because our parents are not only behind us, but excited for and supportive of us!

There are a lot of people who will tell you that getting married young is a bad idea and you should finish school and start your career before you start life together. Figure out who you are and figure out your stuff before committing your life to someone else.

A possible problem I see with that logic is this: Marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and The Church. Imagine if we told people to figure out who they are and take care of their own stuff before committing their lives to Christ. Ridiculous right? You will never have it all figured out and part of the beauty in being married is that you are two imperfect people coming together in an imperfect life where you have given God the reins and said, ‘we can’t do it without you.’ That being said here are 5 reasons post-wedding that I am glad we got married when we did.

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1. The trust

I learned to trust that Clint had my back no matter what. I learned how to share my problems with him and how to shoulder some his burdens as well. Christ tells us to come to him when we are weary because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30) Now I am not saying that being married and sharing problems, hard times, and emotions is easy because it is not. I am saying that I am glad I met a man who didn’t run from those times but let me lean on him and chose to lean on me when those time came for us (and will continue to come).

2. The adventures
We are 25 years old and we have had so many adventures. I know you can have adventures without being married, but think about how much better those adventures are when they are shared with the person who is literally your best friend forever. We have traveled, we have moved, we bought a house, we were first-time parents for 9 months (you can read more about that here).

3. The growing up
Yes, technically we were adults when we got married, but all the adventures I talked about above gave us some life experience that made us begin to feel a lot more like adults than we ever did before, and we did it together. We have changed since we got married and certainly since we started dating 7 years ago, but the beauty of changing in marriage is that you change together. It’s as though Christ saw us and knew that we could be better and He changed us, molded us to become a closer picture of what He wants for His Church, and I do not believe that we are done changing together.

4. The debt
I will never tell you that it is a good idea to get married while you are in debt, but then again I will never tell you that it is a good idea to be in debt either… for any reason (I don’t count buying a house because you can always sell that.). That being said, we got married in debt. We are still in debt from school loans. However, here is what I will tell you about our married experience with debt 1) We learned to live within our means, and we learned to prioritize. Both very important to learn at an early age. 2) We will never ever make this mistake again. 3) When we pay off the last of our loans it will be a huge victory that we will celebrate together, because it is something that we have worked toward for a very long time together. Also this is another part of the growing up thing… you live and you learn.

5. The first and the only
He was my first. My first love and my first partner. When I married Clint I married him with a whole heart. A heart that hadn’t been ripped into a million pieces by previous relationships. I know that God could have healed that part of my life if this hadn’t been the case, but I am still glad that I married him when I did and without the sting of relationships gone bad lurking in my past. I am glad I married him young because it left less time for me to mess up and get myself into trouble.

Please note that I am not saying that these are reasons that everyone (or anyone) else should get married young. God has a plan for your life and chances are it is very different from the plan he has for mine, but looking back at my life I am just saying that these are 5 (of the many) reasons that I wouldn’t want my life so far to have gone any other way.

Kelsey

Give me eyes to see you

It would be an understatement to say that I have been irritable lately for some unknown reason.
But today has been a very good day and this is why;

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
therefore I will hope in Him.”

Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

So thankful to serve a God like that.

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Kelsey

Let’s talk about shoes

Let’s talk about shoes.

Imagine a world without constant electricity. A world where your kids may or may not be educated. A world where your daughter’s best friend has no mom or dad to take care of her. You wake up in the mornings and get your children up, it’s hot and the sweat drips down your back. Your kids have dirt stained on their faces because there is no sink in your home to wash their faces. You have dolled out chores to each child and this morning your daughter was assigned the task of walking the long dusty trail to fetch water for the family.

Now imagine her doing that without shoes.

If there is a cut, you have not peroxide, alcohol, or neosporin to clean it out. You have no bandaid to keep it clean until it heals, no gauze to stop the bleeding.

The fact of the matter is that this is the story for millions of families around the world. Today I am writing to inform you about a ministry provided by Buckner International; Shoes for Orphan Souls.

This ministry aims to provide new shoes and socks to over 100 million orphans around the world. This month is their annual Barefoot Run in Dallas, but they have added a new component this year in an attempt to provide the opportunity for more people to get involved. This year they are also doing a virtual run.

I will be participating in this year’s virtual run. Ok ok, let me be honest, I don’t run. I think it is miserable. So I will be participating in a virtual walk, but I will do it without shoes! The goal here is to raise awareness and/or funds so that more children can be provided with shoes.

To participate all you have to do is click on the banner below and register where you are. Your run *cough* or walk *cough* can take place anytime between Oct. 4-11. You choose your location, date, and time. Here is the important part! Connect with the other virtual runners via Instagram using #barefootrun

I was told there would be a contest… something about a prize for the best barefoot run photo.

If you live in my area and want to run *cough* walk *cough* with me you can register the same way just register under the group name Barefoot run/Lufkin. If you register with my group email me
kelseygilliam@me.com

I can give you more information about where/when we will be running!

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That is the banner you need to click...

I forgot to mention; when you go online and register (it’s free) you can donate. They also have an option to buy a shirt ($15), and you will receive a picture of the child that you will be running for. That’s my favorite part.

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Kelsey

What You Want to Know (and then some)

I opened my journal today to write a prayer. It’s funny because I have had this journal for about a year and you would expect it to be filled with prayers after that amount of time, but I realized that after having the girls the last year my journal got a lot more use as a picture book than a prayer journal =). I opened to write today and flipped to this page:

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Precious.

Let me debunk another Foster Care myth really quickly. Now that the girls are home we constantly have people asking us how we are doing. I am going to be very honest with you. We are fine. =). We miss the girls and we miss having kids in our home but we have not cried or worried.

I think something people don’t think about when it comes to Foster Care is that when God opens your heart and you choose to open your doors to these kids He will reward that, and for us He did that by taking care of all those emotions.

Just like when you have a biological child, or your maybe child grows up in your home and God calls them away to a dangerous place, or a million other scenario’s where parents have learned to trust Christ, we had to come to a point where we remembered that God loves them more than we do. I mean, after all, He formed them in their mother’s womb. He knew them before they knew life in this world, and that is where we have placed all of our concerns, and worries for them.

I know that we would not be so calm without Christ and we are so so so so so so so so so so (I could type a million more of those) thankful for your prayers through this time for our family and for theirs! We are also so thankful for the encouragement that we have received from you all during this time.

I am excited to share with you some of the other things that Christ is doing in our lives right now and as He begins to reveal our future to us I am excited to share with you what that is going to look like, so keep reading! =).

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I will leave you with this random photo of a Zebra in my car…
He was quite friendly.

Until next time,

Kelsey