If Only We Continue On

On the way to church yesterday morning, I changed the radio station after one of my favorite country songs ended. Following the mere click of a button, 'Oceans' by Hillsong started to sound through my car speakers. I slowly lifted one of my hands off the steering wheel and up towards Heaven. Worshiping and driving along the vast Minnesotan countryside on a beautiful Sunday, I began to sing.

Just as I raised my voice, the radio went fuzzy. I could barely make out the lyrics, but I knew them by heart and sang them loud and proud anyway. After the song ended, I began to think about that fuzzy radio station in comparison to my daily walk with Jesus. Sometimes, just like that fuzzy radio station, my relationship with Jesus can seem incredibly distant. Sometimes, when things are particularly challenging, I feel like I can't hear Him at all.

As my over thinking, over analyzing mind would have it, I pondered this thought for the entirety of the drive leftover. I could pinpoint so many times in my life + faith walk where I felt that Jesus was so far from present in my life. One of those times stuck out in particular.

Before I was officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis in the summer of 2011, I'd experienced a year full of explainable symptoms. Ones that let me hurting, hopeless, and afraid. Of everything. Life. Death. Pain. Suffering. I would like to say that I would never wish that pain upon anyone, even my worst enemy, but I can't. And I'll tell you why: Jesus used that pain to save my soul. Had I not been at the lowest point of my life, I'm not sure that I would have surrendered my life to Him and I'm not sure that I would be here today.

You see, even THAT particular season in my life - one that I endured feeling the furthest thing away from God - even THAT season was used by our miraculous King to teach me a lesson about His unchanging, unalterable love for us. Looking back on that same season now, I realize it was in those moments... The sleepless nights, anxiety-ridden hospital visits, and never ending tear-fests that I was actually closer to Jesus than I have ever been before. He was carrying me through, moment by moment, and only then did I begin to understand the true meaning of the steadfast love of my Savior.

Though God does not promise us a trial-free life, He does promise that knowing + trusting Him will make any and all things possible. When we get to know Him + begin to trust Him, we are able to seek Him anywhere. In the valley, on the mountain top; in the depths of the ocean, or even while walking on water. We are able to feel Him, hear Him, and trust His goodness even when things are challenging... Because we have experienced His love and believe in His ever-present promise. Because our hearts know Him, His grace, and His love... We are able to listen to His voice even when it is distant. Because we know He loves us with an unfathomable love, we have the strength to face any day.

Yesterday, when the radio station went fuzzy, I continued to sing through it not because I could hear the music, but because I knew the words. The car wasn't silent or merely filled with the sound of a dead radio because I continued on. Similarly, if we continue seeking Him in the trials and triumphs alike, simply because we believe + KNOW that He will provide what is necessary to get through whatever it may be, there won't be silence. There won't be distance, His voice won't be fuzzy, and He will use those moments to draw us closer to Him.

If only we continue on.



Back in February, I announced that Jesus is taking me to Swaziland! As stated there, I believe in this trip and the mission more than words can say. I am filled with the excitement of how it will grow my faith and change my heart. I know will never be the same after taking this step out of my comfort zone. Never. And that excites me more than anything in the world because THAT is precisely the way I want to serve Jesus.

Since that announcement and writing that post, I have received prayer, donations, words of encouragement, and an even deeper desire to go on this trip. I want to love the children of Swaziland until I literally can't anymore. I want to hold them and snuggle them and adore them in a way only my heart can. I want to experience their giggles in real life. I want to sing "Jesus Loves Me" in the hot sun. I want to do God's work... And I want to watch my heart burst at the seams as I do so.

While I am beyond gracious for the funds that have already come in, I haven't quite reached my goal of $3500. Originally, I had planned for this money to come in before the end of May - and while that isn't exactly looking to happen, I know Jesus has His own timing... And His promises never fail.

Sunday afternoon was my last shift at Starbucks and I worked with a girl I'd never met before. Right before I left, her and I somehow got on the topic of running and I mentioned that I was diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis at the age of 14. She responded, "WHAT?! Me too!" We went on to share our entire diagnosis stories and what medications we're currently on. When I told her how Enbrel has basically given me my life back and reignited my passion for running, she said, "Kenzie, one day I hope I can say the same." I left work that afternoon with so much compassion on my heart. Casey hasn't left my mind once this week.

Following that shift, I attended a worship service at my church on Sunday night. I was praying over the travel expenses I have yet to fund for my trip to Africa this summer. I was asking God HOW the money was going to come in and WHY He has called me to this trip... Every time I tried to argue, I heard the same thing over and over: "Have faith child, I will provide. I have called YOU and I shall sustain you."

Moments later, my pastor spoke over the microphone and asked if God had spoke to anyone in the moment of silence that we took. I had just about mustered enough courage to go to the altar and share what God had spoke to me, but I saw another young woman stand up and briskly walk down to the microphone first. It was then that this young woman spoke into the microphone... She said...

"God just told me that someone in this room is going to be a missionary."

Instantly, tears started streaming down my face. I couldn't contain my excitement or the blessed reassurance I felt in that moment. I knew - 110% - that God had just used her to speak to me in the most realistic way possible. I attempted to ignore what He was telling me - and He made me understand it even more clearly.

Even further, my pastor then looked over at me. He looked me in my tear-filled eyes and he said, "Is that for anyone tonight? Did that just entirely blow someone away?" Without thinking for a split second, I stood up. Before I knew it, I was standing at the altar speaking into the microphone. I shared how stressed I have been about  funds coming in for this trip. I shared my heart for missions. I publicly announced that I recently switched to a double major in missional ministries and social work. And, well, I cried. Because God had just spoken to me and I knew I was going forward even more confident in that calling.

Last night, as I was out for a run, I prayed the e.n.t.i.r.e. time for Casey and this missions trip - two things that have clearly been heavy on my heart for so long. As I was praying, I came up with an even greater challenge to put two of my biggest challenges to work... Together.

And THAT's where #RunningForSwazi was born!

Basically, for every $100 donated towards this trip (from this point forward) I will run one mile. The goal is to raise $2500 by May 31st - exactly 2 months from the date which I will be returning from my 2 week trip to Swaziland, Africa. Yes, you read that right. I could potentially be running 25 miles in less than 3 weeks. All donations will do directly towards my travel expenses.

This is a challenge I am more than willing to take on for the children of Swaziland. If you are interested in helping me get there, donate below + spread the word by tagging me () and also hashtagging #RunningForSwazi! 

Luke 4:18 - "...He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, and that the oppressed will be set free."