a better life

My girls Bible study started Tim Keller’s Generous Justice a few weeks ago, and it’s messing me up, in a good way. I’ve read Radical, I read a little of Don’t Waste Your Life, I’ve talked to people who have read Crazy Love, and they all sound the same. This one is a little different so far. This reminds readers the biblical mandate of taking care of the aliens and the poor in the Old and New Testaments. It was probably said in other books, but it’s hitting me now. I haven’t gotten farther than that, but I can only imagine what else it will tell me. It’s the kind of book that I read and think “I can never go back- what does this mean?!?”

One member of the BS is the amazing Lisa Watson who heads up a group called CMIRA- Christian Memphians for Immigration Reform Association. Here is an article in the Commercial Appeal that gives a little info as well: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/nov/17/show-of-solidarity/ . Recently they put on a movie called Welcome to Shelbyville, which was fascinating to me, and that I totally meant to blog about but forgot. Anyway, Lisa has been gently and slowly inserting mentions of this group in BS and today, for me, it clicked.

Last Tuesday, Cassandra mentioned the movie A Better Life, about an illegal Mexican alien in the U.S. trying to make something of life for him and his son. Today we went and saw the movie…and…I don’t know how to express how much it impacted me. We watched a man struggle to find money to try and maintain a business to be able to get his son into a better school, away from gangs and careless education. It’s so easy for other people to buy a house based on a good credit score, which isn’t that hard to obtain, buy your kid some school supplies, and drive to your job. But when you’re an illegal alien, you can’t do any of that. You can’t get a credit card, you can’t get a license, you don’t get to have a lot of say in your kid’s school PTA because you want to fly under the radar and be invisible. The police are the enemy, rather than the safeguard. People want to get out of their situations for whatever reasons, hoping America will be their solution, and it’s not always the case. I definitely am not as informed as Lisa or as much as I want to be, but something is pulling inside. I felt very convicted about complaining the past several weeks about my job and money situation. I actually complained to Bobby because I can’t buy clothes or shoes until I get a job. Really? REALLY? Our budget is tight, but we still have cable, we still eat plenty of food and can pay to fix Bobby’s car when it broke down last week.

I’m not trying to get on the soapbox of something I am not fully informed or aware of, but it’s true that that some people really do try and really don’t have opportunities. I probably wouldn’t have cared so much, but now that Keller is telling me every week that the Bible has clearly spelled out some things for us…I’m just getting a little jolted. I never do well when people tell me things (you “should” live here, you “should” care about this, you “should” volunteer here…) but when the Bible tells me, I can’t argue. I can only pray the Holy Spirit will filter this through us the way He wants it to be.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute…”
Proverbs 31:8

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the immigrant, the fatherless, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place'”.
Jeremiah 22:3


the big j-o-b…?

I get a lot of questions about my job status, and after finding out some news today I figured I would go ahead and publicly share, cause, why not. Let’s do a quick summary of the past few years though…just for perspective:

May 2008: graduated college, figured I was going to be living overseas forever so what’s the point of finding a job?!

August 2008: began internship at home church in Memphis. Totally a temporary move…

February 2009: on vision trip, God says no and long-term workers tell me that I am a tea-drinker, that I can’t get a Visa on the “talking” platform, and I should come back when I get married.

May 2009: internship is ending, overseas fell though, I have NO idea what I want to do, so I take an interim position at a golf club as a Food & Beverage Director. Have I ever had any experience in Food & Bev? Nope! I coordinate events (not my thing!) and am in charge of people (ugh). But I did fall in love that summer 🙂

August 2009: F & B lady comes back, so I am demoted to banquet staff/beverage cart girl/restaurant worker. I make lots of money but decide I want to be a teacher of some type, so I begin graduate school as non-degree seeking.

October 2009: Golf season is on the downward slope, so I get a second job at Starbucks. Insurance + coffee + hilarious coworkers + graduate school = seemingly awesome. Golf club eventually fades away in November.

Summer 2010: try to get in with Memphis City Schools as an ESL teacher (oh yeah, somewhere along the way I decide I want to teach ESL! yay!), take my Praxis, pass, go through beginning stages of interviews, get phone calls for openings, but I take a part-time teaching position at De La Salle teaching ESL to Africans. Technically, I was a “Title III, self-employed, Bi-lingual counselor, private vendor for Memphis City Schools to De La Salle”. I wanted to see if I liked teaching, and I knew the school was pretty much the ideal situation. It’s a Jubilee school, which cares about what I care about and that’s great. Meanwhile, I get engaged and decide to take a year off of school.

December 2010: drowning in two jobs so goodbye Starbucks…goodbye free coffee…

January 2011: begin keeping Sarah’s nephew on Thursdays- did I mention Sarah got me the job at Starbucks AND De La Salle?

March 2011: I get a phone call that the money has run out and I am not to return to DLS. I freak out, make moves to substitute with MCS until somehow, randomly, the Diocese found a load of money specifically for ESL. Hmm…

May 2011: last days at DLS.  I need a full-time teaching job so I can become certified through the U of M program. Keeping Nathan on Mondays & Thursdays…and that’s all…

June 2011: back in grad school, officially in the program: Masters of Teaching English as a Second Language.

July 2011: here we are now. I was pretty set on what schools I wanted to teach at and who I wanted to teach exclusively. On the drive back from the conference last weekend, I sensed the Lord was asking me to release some things, namely what I thought my purpose in Memphis was. I don’t want to presume to know what’s best for me and shut doors myself on things. So then I applied to the County, which I never originally planned. Anyway. Lots of prayer, lots of hope and positive encouragement from people, and lots of saying I trust the Lord with what He’s got.

Then today.

Today I call the MC ESL department to talk to my now good friend, Mr. D, who is the main man. Through a long conversation, I learned there are NO more ESL openings in MCS! Part of the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi Mr. D, it’s Katie Kersey, formerly Katie Taylor…blah blah exchange pleasantries…So how’s this job thing looking? Any updates?
Mr. D: yeah…It looks grim.
Lots of talking here…towards the end:
Me: so…is the best thing for me to do right now is pray really, really hard and hope someone quits?
Mr. D.: yeah…

Okay, so there we go. Here I am, at an opportunity for faith to be used. I’m disappointed for sure, nervous about things (like, insurance, like, money, like, school…) but I’ve felt God leading me towards teaching. I’ve been praying a lot about teaching this summer, and making sure it really is what God wants to use me for, not just the easiest default. Now I see that this “easy default” I was leaning on is NOT SO EASY! My prayer is that if God has something better for me, to use here (or overseas…) or whatever, that Bobby and I will be brave and go with it. I LOVE school and what I am learning, but I will give it up to follow Him.

So, while a blog is NOT the best place to ask, for whoever stumbles across this in the blogosphere, please pray for me and Bobby. It’s hard knowing that this affects him, but good knowing I have a partner in this. And in case you missed the timeline, I’ve been out of college for 3 years and have not had a full-time job yet. It kinda wears on me at times and makes me feel insecure, but I see clearly that God still has lots of random and cool things for me. I may never get the big full-time job, but if that’s what He has…then…okay…I choose to believe He’s good even when I’m ready for something new.


Almost on a whim, I decided I HAD to attend a conference focused on A-land. It has been 2 years since I have attended, and I missed it. I missed the people, the heart behind it, and the praying. Definitely the praying. Hearing the prayers lifted up to heaven on behalf of a broken, desolate, struggling, yet hopeful place is overwhelming. Even the times we have prayed in silence have been the loudest cheers of praise and cries of desperation to God I’ve ever heard. These are the people who taught me to pray. So I had to come. Thursday I packed up and headed to Indiana to experience what is my favorite year of this conference so far.

There’s too many things to process right now that the Lord has impressed on my heart and spoken to me about (at least, I really hope  it was HIM.) Thursday night and Friday morning were such sweet times of encouragement, mixed in with seeing old friends and slipping away to finish school work, that I forgot one of the reasons I came up here. The Memorial Service.

Last July, a group of workers headed to an unreached, difficult region for a clinic. Hundreds of people were seen and shown the love of Jesus to through medical care. The trip into this area is difficult, considering you have to hike and climb to get in. One the way back, the team was ambushed by gunmen who found “sensitive materials”- so each person was shot (except one man). Among this group was a friend of mine, Cheryl, and a long-time worker, Tom. Cheryl’s dad and Tom’s wife came and spoke at the Memorial tonight, and it was no less than amazing. I thought it was going to be an emotional time with lots of tears. It turned out to be a sweet account of Tom’s last days with his family. How he called his wife 2x a day whenever he was away from her, for 40 years, even in this remote area. How Cheryl always had a heart for the oppressed, even as a child. How nationals saw the difference in these individuals, and reached out to their families after the event. At the end, a song Cheryl wrote to her friend and sister was played. It focused on the theme in Isaiah of “do not fear, He has redeemed you…” and her words of comfort were inspiring and humbling. Humbling is the best way to describe this service, knowing that these are treasured stories of God’s dedicated workers, who died living for His name, now experiencing and living in His glory.

Afterwards, I spoke to Cheryl’s father and shared a bit about her impact on my life. The biggest thing Cheryl spoke to me about was living in a mindset of worship. I asked her once in 2008 how it is to be in A. for an indefinite amount of time- she responded “I ask myself at the end of everyday, did I worship? If yes, then it’s been a good day. That’s all I am living by right now.” I’ve repeated this to different people so many times since then that I didn’t even remember it was Cheryl who told me until after she died and I was saying it to someone.

So, I have more to process and think through, but I know that today I have worshipped, and I am so thankful for this time of refreshment, reminders, celebrations, and stirring.

tree of life

Even though I’m not a big movie person, I’m glad I was encouraged to see this. It was a really intriguing perspective on life, family, creation, grace…

“Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries.”

“Someday we’ll fall down and weep. And we’ll understand it all, all things.”

big moment

This might seem somewhat NOT a big deal for people, but this is so exciting for me. Finally, after Bobby owning his house for 1.5 years, we got out the hammer and nails and put two pictures up on the wall!

The funny thing is, Bobby has things on his walls. Right now the only things up are pictures in his Man-Room, but I don’t like to talk about those. There’s a reason it’s his room, not mine. Bobby gets nervous about putting holes in the walls, so he tries to use the same holes the previous owners had. A couple of weeks ago I got really adventurous and tried to put up some shelves in our bedroom. It was not a successful attempt, and I tried to hide the evidence before Bobby got home. Unforunately, that night he asked “So what’s your plan with all those holes in our wall…?” oops. busted.

Anyway, last night I got my birthday card from one of my favorite people ever, Meredith Pace, and it matched other cards she’s given for me from birthdays & engagement (via Curly Girl Designs, which she has gotten me into). Therefore…

from 25th birthday

24th birthday

I got these frames when I worked at Starbucks. My manager was about to throw them away, so I took them home. They have little pictures of the dairy-man and a coffee cup on them, which I covered with black and white maps from a calendar. It didn’t look right, so I put the cards in there. So…you can kinda see the map behind the cards.

We have big plans for other parts of the house…and lots of resources…

approximately 20 picture frames, no lie

Oh, but I forgot I did “hang up” (as in, pushpins) another art-work. Some of my students from this year came over last week, and I had to put up their wedding gift to me:

"LOVE" 🙂

I had to share my excitement over this. Woohoo!