His Bloody Hands On My Face

I've been home from Kenya, Africa for 53 days and I'm still struggling to share the stories for so many reasons: 

One: I'm a word person and I am having a hard time crafting words that would do justice to what I saw, learned, and experienced over there, and continue to process since being home. Two: So many of the stories aren't mine to share. The stories I've heard have wrecked me and sharpened me and purified my faith. But to share them with you would dishonor their confidence even though they don't have access to the internet or you access to them. So many stories simply aren't mine to share. Three: Life. I got home on a Sunday afternoon and was back to being a stay-at-home mom of 3 little girls, CEO of Sacred Holidays and signed a book deal with an agent that Monday. I've so neglected this space because my words and attention have been pulled else where.

So about Kenya... Oh friends, I loved it. Loved the people. And am crazy wild about His Voice Global (learn more about HVG and follow @hisvoiceglobal on Instagram). I think I'm going to share a story with you every couple of weeks or so to spread out the trip for you and me. There's just no way to do one recap post. 

We were there to put on a Women's Conference for the women in the Rift Valley, but the first day was all about learning about about the people and then visiting some in their homes. I'll share more about the home visits, but first I want to share about this boy. 

We were walking back to our van down the dusty, rocky roads and we turned a corner and saw some kids in the distance and they took off running towards our group. This little one leap into my arms and wouldn't let me set him down until it was time to go. 

The heart breaking thing about so many of these children is they are left to roam the streets all alone. I won't share the details of this boy because it's not mine to share. But I'll tell you that the majority of these kids are wondering the streets of this village because it's been days since their mom has returned home from prostituting themselves. Most of their fathers are dead or gone. Days they go without eye contact or a hug. There is no one intent on adoring them and posting their every success to social media. Days they go without food or water. The women that live in this camp (more details coming about the homes later) that go to the church, Rift Valley Fellowship, that His Voice Global partners with for everything in Kenya, take these children in on the days and nights their moms have disappeared again. They are the Heroes of God's great story. 

This is what I wrote in my journal that day: 

One boy ran up to me as if he was my son, and I his Mommy he hadn't seen all day. He literally leapt into my arms and wrapped his arms tight around my neck, refusing to be put down. He seemed about Moriah's age, maybe four, but felt the same weight as Chandler (our two year old). His hands were covered with dirt and blood, both were caked on. I couldn't tell why because they were so filthy. His face covered in dirt and blisters. But those eyes of his-- big, brown eyes. 

He took his bloody, dirt covered fingers and traced my hot pink lips. Again and again he circled them. We were both lost in the moment and each other.

He patted his chest and said, "James." 

He wanted me to know his name. James. I will never forget him, just as a birth mom never forgets the child placed on her chest but given away to someone else. 

James. Big brown eyes with bloody, dirty hands. James. 

We continued down that rocky, bumpy, dusty road. Other children joining us with each step. Each person on our team had arms and hands full. Soon a child was holding each of my hands too, as James still circled his arms tight around my neck and looked at me with those big bright eyes that still make me smile at the thought of them. 

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I didn't know why I was in Kenya, it just felt like I was supposed to go. I didn't know what help I could bring or what real difference I could make once I got home. But I knew I was supposed to go. 

James taught me something that day: be available for each person that is just in front of you. 

I'm such a doer and dreamer/planner that I can get distracted in the here and now. My body may be present but my mind is 6 months or 6 years ahead. It's so ridiculous, I'm so ridiculous. But James taught me to be present.

To be open to whatever God brings about as I'm simply walking down the path I'm on.

To embrace the ones that need it.

To not fear getting messy (or worse) from the things I'll be exposed to when I embrace all kinds of people. 

To love on others more fully-- really look them in they eye and see them.

I would've scooped up James that day and brought him home with me that day if the law allowed it. And you better believe I googled Kenya adoption laws and asked Chris if there was any way we could relocate for 6 months (a requirement to adopt from Kenya is to live there for 6 months). But bringing James into our home wasn't God's plan for me or James that day. He has a Mama. The Lord sees him and her and I can only pray that He will rescue them. Not to a life that is clean or rich, but to a life that is full of faith and love. 

I wasn't James's hero that day. I was there only for a moment. The hero of His story will always be Jesus. Jesus is the one who sees and looks after James. Jesus is the one that has all those women of the community watching over him when his family doesn't. Jesus is the one that provides extra food for one of those women and a palate on the floor for James. He knows love greater than what I offered him in that moment. 

But that moment was still sacred and it was for both of us.  I will never forget those eyes or those bloody, dirty fingers tracing over my hot pink lips. 

I have an agent & I'm writing a book!

I've had an idea for a book for nearly two years and the idea of it just wouldn't leave me alone. I thought of ways to turn it into a study for Sacred Holidays and it just felt forced. So I've been sitting on it for two years. I played with the idea of self-publishing it a year or so ago, and it felt like if it was going to be something, it needed to be catapulted into the world. So I sat and waited for the next step. 

Six months ago I sat around a table in Colorado at Camp Well, and said the word out loud for the first time: "I want to write a book, get it published and now is the time." 

Up until that moment getting published was something I'd always put in the much later down the road category if that was something God had for me. I had disqualified myself because of life circumstances (aka a bunch of excuses or insecurities). I said it couldn't happen until my kids were older, I was older, or my plate less full. But with age I've learned our timing and ideas pale in comparison to His ideas and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9 confirms this hunch).

So here I am with three kids ages six and younger, I am 35 myself, and my plate is full and...

Last night I officially signed this contract (unofficially, the day before I left for Kenya) and am officially represented by Blair & Rachel Jacobson with  D.C. Jacobson & Associates! (Copy and paste all the happy emoticons here!!!!!!!!!)

Chris and I were just going over my sample chapters this morning and I referenced Camp Well in a chapter. He looked up and pointed out that was just this past fall. The past 6 months have been a whirlwind y'all. A crazy, only God kind of a whirlwind. 

Remember the day before I left for Camp Well is when I first heard the new that I needed to see a hematology oncologist. At the time it could be anything from something weird with my blood to cancer in my blood. A month later and we were down to two options, the extremes we were given-- it would either be a weird blood thing that was easily treated or leukemia. The fall was gut wrenching. (You can read more of that story here.) Moving forward and we learned it wasn't cancer, and on to other tests (read more here). All in the midst of launching Advent with Sacred Holidays. It was a our biggest year yet and we were full-on, busy. Then the holidays with family. And onto Lent, my first study to publish with Sacred Holidays that I wrote on my own since the first year. My calendar was filling up and I was speaking more. I've never battled insecurity like I did the past six months of ministry because the enemy would like nothing more than to see us stopped from doing the things we are meant to do.

All things on paper seemed like they were going well, and they were! But I just felt like something was missing. I couldn't stop thinking of this book, but the idea of one more thing sounded absolutely crazy. Then I literally looked up and saw the verse I've had taped all over my house for the past year in multiple translations. 

I realized all my excuses were just excuses and it was time to go after that book. 

Oh and that is a process my friends. It sounds easy: have a book idea, write a book, then publish a book. Oh no, that's just not how things work if you want to be traditionally published. I am all for self-publishing, this is what we currently do for Sacred Holidays and will continue to do this method for as long as it is best. I've also seen self-publishing be the best alternative for many other writer friends. But I knew that for writing books, I wanted to work with a traditional publisher. With choosing that route, I knew that there also came a lot (read A LOOOOOOOTTTTTT) of work that goes into even getting started with writing a book. 

First step is get an agent. Publishers love authors, but publishers love authors when they are represented by an agent. Honestly, I love this concept too-- it allows the business side to be handled by someone else and the author is freed up to have a freer relationship with the publisher. I had to find an agent. 

Most writers have as standard proposal that they copy and paste and send to hundreds of agents. I knew this just wasn't the method for me. I didn't want just any agent. I wanted a real partner. I needed to respect and trust and want to learn from this person. I needed to know the book would be better with this person as the other advocate for it. I didn't want just any deal, I wanted to best deal, the right deal for me and my book (and all the future books to come). 

So I made my list of dream agents and narrowed it down even further. I followed the instructions for submitting a proposal, which ended up being a document more than twenty pages long: book summaries, book outline, chapter summaries, primary and secondary audience analysis, author bio and profile, competitive analysis, and more. I wouldn't call it hazing, but this is where they can weed out any one who isn't serious about writing a book. You will have a really good idea of your book, your audience, your competition and yourself after you've finished your proposal.

So I submitted it and I waited. I had a whole tribe of friends that were praying this whole thing into existence and cheering me on. 

A couple of days later I got a response! Interest and meetings and all was looking good! Then on my birthday of all days, I got the email that said it wouldn't work out. I was so discouraged because things really seemed to be looking like it would happen... and it was my birthday. Major womp womp, y'all. 

Then just a few days later, that generous and talented agent, who wasn't able to represent me, passed along my proposal to an agent she thought would be a better match for me, and they were interested! A few days later we talked and then both agreed to work together! 

It's funny because just a week before I had been crushed, and as soon as I got off the call with my new agents I turned to Chris and said this is the perfect team for me! I needed to go through the first step with the first agent or else I wouldn't have been connected with who represents me now, and I couldn't be more thrilled than to be working with Blair & Rachel Jacobson with  D.C. Jacobson & Associates

One of the things I say most about wanting to go with the traditional route of publishing for the books is because I feel I have the most to learn in the realm. Having run Sacred Holidays for two and a half years now, I know the value agents and publishers bring to the table. So I feel like I struck gold with Blair and Rachel because Blair is a writing coach and Rachel is a creative. I want to grow as a writer, but I also want to put out products that push the norm and what's expected when people pick up books and Bible studies. 

So I am incredibly honored to join the team at D.C. Jacobson & Associates. They represent some of my very favorite authors: Jess Connolly, Vicki Courtney, Joshua Harris, Tammie Head, Jamie Ivey, Kat Lee, Kelly Minter, Hayley Morgan, Tsh Oxenreider, Jessica Turner, Kasey Van Norman, Logan Wolfram, and Alli Worthington. 

I can't wait to share more about the book and this process with you all! It's a slow process, so know it will take some time. You all will be the first to know when I can share about the book, when launch team sign ups start, etc. 

Going to Kenya (Yes, I'm asking for help)

In a month and a half I'm heading to Kenya to spend 8 days loving on, learning from, serving and teaching women who are trapped in sex trade industry (#1 commercial industry in Kenya, I know unbelievable).

And yes, this is one of those letters. You know the ones... you get them, you see they really just want your money and not just your prayers, (you might roll your eyes), you delete them. 

Before you click delete or you keep scrolling, will you just hear me out real quick? Pretty please?

Here's the deal: I have 1 month to raise $2,169. 

I don't know about you, but that's a lot of money for me. What's not a lot of money is $20. I will not even consider the Chris Kiser/Dave Ramsey budget for $20 at Chick-Fil-A or Torchy's. All I need is a 100 friend to give $20. (Or if we want to do this faster, 20 friends to give $100.) 

 

What will I be doing? 

Minor details right? :)

I'm going with His Voice Global, one of my very favorite non-profits in all the world. They are holding a women's conference in an area of Kenya that's predominant economic structure is based on the commercial sex trade industry. We will be working alongside Rift Valley Fellowship, a church that ministers to the vulnerable women and children in this area, to help with their efforts to provide wholistic care to the women and children of Maai Mahiu. 

 

So would you please, oh please, making a tax-deductible donation towards my trip? 

How to do give toward the Kenya trip:

1: Click the button below: 

2: Type in your amount

3: Be sure to select my name (Becky Kiser) in the drop down list. 

4: Finish the rest of the parts and don't forget to click the "donate" button at the end. 

 

My thank you to you

For anyone that makes a donation towards my trip, whether $5 or $500, I want to give you a FREE digital Sacred Holidays Lent study. If you already have one, then you can use this code to give to a friend. Yes, Lent already started but the study is set up with each day being a stand alone day. So you can pick up right where we are and then always go back and do the other days when you have time. Go to the Sacred Holidays Lent shop and use code IGAVETOKENYA to get you free digital study. 

 

I promise I'll be sharing more about the trip on social media when I go and get back. And I feel certain there will be some blogs coming about it too. 

P.S. If you are new to my blog, I think this is the first time I've ever asked for money on it. So don't think this is a typical practice. This trip came up last minute and I just really believe I'm supposed to go on it. Coming up with 2 grand is a lot for us, so we wanted to invite others to give who can't go.