Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Waitress Life

I recently picked up a second job at a local  restaurant in town. I've never been a waitress, but I wanted to earn some extra money. I'm about 2 months in and this has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. I feel compelled to share my stories and newfound truths with you all. So, here is to hoping that your eyes might be opened as mine were. Disclaimer: This blog is not to complain about my job or to sound whiny, so don't confuse my tone here please. I really enjoy my job- but I think there are some giant misconceptions about the service industry therefore I give you: What lies behind your server.

1.) The service industry is hard work.
I'm talking running, sweating, hurried, anxious, intense, work. For some reason people tend to look down on this work and have come up with the conclusion that it's an easy job. If that's what you're thinking... you'd be wrong. The hours are tough. You have to be strong. You have to be willing to get dirty. And I mean like disgusting dirty. I leave my shifts drained; physically, mentally and emotionally. 

2.) The "Customer Service Face"
This one is tricky, so listen closely. When you are eating out next time, just remember that your server has had an entire shift of people to serve. So they have already had bad attitudes, rude voices and unkind words. Part of this industry is learning to put on a brave face. One of the most humbling aspects of the job, is to be yelled at, rudely spoken to, or embarrassed by a customer and just have to take it as "part of the job." Now, don't get me wrong folks, I am a fan of the "customer is always right" motto. And it's something I promote as a customer and a waitress. But there is a line. The servers are there to serve you, to wait on you, to get your food and drinks and every other little thing you need, and to create a pleasant dining experience for you. But we are not there as your punching bags. So the "Hey, You...where's my coke?" or the endless complaints about food that has nothing wrong with it is not only unnecessary but frankly it's just not our job. Listen closely to this last part... Your server still deserves respect. 

3.) And on that note it's helpful to remember, your server is still human. 
I work with some of the best waitresses I've ever seen. They have killer memories, excellent people skills, insane time management and just flat out hustle to earn money. But this doesn't change the fact that are people. These are young women who are students, wives, mothers, with lives outside of being a waitress every night. They come to work with their own sets of struggles and valleys. They are working every night to feed their child, to pay for their car, to buy school books, or to get their rent in each month. These are people with stories and emotions and thoughts- and those are not eliminated as soon as they cross into the kitchen. So customers, learn to be understanding. Learn to forgive. Because we are humans...just like you.. we will make mistakes. We may forget you wanted lemon or to bring your crackers before the meal. It won't end the world. Just give us a friendly reminder. We'll get it,  I promise. 

4.) The Tipping
Come all knew it was coming. Haha. A lot of people don't seem to know that servers in all food industries do not get paid regular minimum wage. We all get paid $2.13 an hour. Everywhere in America. So every time you have had a waiter or waitress serve your meal, they get 2.13 before tax is taken out, for every hour you sit at their table. This is why tips are so, so important to us. I am not sitting here asking anyone to leave $20 tips every time they eat out- but please be mindful next time you are eating out that a hearty tip goes a long way with your server. And that not leaving a tip at your table is truly disrespectful and honestly just a slap in your servers face. Please just remember that the hard work they are putting in deserves something. And essentially all of their customers are responsible for each servers salary.

Last, I'd like to end on some thing we LOVE for our patrons to do.
1.) Love having regulars. Never hesitate to come into your favorite place to eat...there's no such thing as eating their too much. I love knowing some of our customers, enjoying their company, and counting on their kindness to come in that night. So keep on comin' folks!

2.) Please feel free to call me by name. Never hesitate to call your server by name if they tell you their name. Again, makes us feel a little more human than "hey you."

3.) Talk to us throughout your meal if you would like to. Even when I'm busy I never mind having a nice chat with my customers. It's totally okay to ask me questions about me, my life, my t-shirt, why I work there, my future. I could tell you story after story of customers who have asked me about my t-shirt that grew into a conversation about my college, my future plans, my husband, my family connections. I love creating bonds like that with our patrons. It just makes everyone's experience that much more authentic in my opinion.

Well I hope you all enjoyed a little dive into the life of a waitress and perhaps in the future we will all see our servers a bit differently. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Whole New World

I'm baaaccck. Sorry about the six month hiatus, but I was a tad preoccupied with my last semester of college and working my new job. But I'm back, I'm energized and I have a lot to say! :)

6-Month Update: Moved from Hamilton in to an apartment right smack-dab in the middle of town (which I am obsessed with). Started working as the new Administrative Assistant at Calvary Christian High School meanwhile Ben found a new full-time job within Chick fil a that he adores. I finished up my last semester of my undergraduate degree and got another job waitressing at Country's. (So, come see me y'all!) And GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE. I repeat...GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE. That's right folks, I did it. 

I am thrilled to be transitioning into such an exciting, fun new phase of life yet I am already devastated to move away from the Hill, my home away from home. LaGrange was such a special place for me the past four years. It was my haven as I evolved into adulthood. It will be sorely missed as well as the people who significantly impacted my life. 

But here I go...A college graduate, an L.C. alumni, a full-time employee, a wife of 9 months, an adult, a daughter, a friend, a soon-to-be graduate student, a lover of learning,  an adventure-seeking, book-reading, peace-keeping, citizen of the world.

I love being here. In this place where potential abounds, possibilities are endless and the world seems to be just waiting for me to jump in. I finally feel prepared to begin. I am smart enough to know I'll never be too full of knowledge. I am strong enough to take risks. I am bold enough to share. I am loved enough to fall. I am transformed. 

I hope my future will be deep, rich and full of awe, learning, loving, and wonder. I set out aiming to fulfill the famous Wesleyan words to "Do all the good I can, in all the ways I can, by all the means I can, in all the places I can, to all the people I can, as long as I ever can."

How beautiful it is to bask in the beginning when you know it's only dawn. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Explaining Africa

The timing finally feels right. I finally feel like I've fully processed and am beginning to understand.. at least a little bit. So, Here I am to talk about Africa…or at least explain.

For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about- I went to Africa two summers ago(a lifetime dream) for a summer-long internship and I came home after 8 days there. I didn't talk very much about it after that…only to the people really, really close to me. But I finally feel ready enough to elaborate. 

Truthfully, it's not a long, drawn-out, over complicated story. Bottom line: I fell to fear. I was scared and uncomfortable and had extreme anxiety being in a place so far away that didn't feel safe or comforting and I fell captive to those thoughts. Trust me when I say, whatever you are thinking of me right now, I've thought it 20 x's worse about myself for over a year. I was insecure about how I could help in a place that was covered in pain and poverty and sickness. I felt useless. I felt unworthy. I felt insufficient. 

Yet again these are the confessions of falling to lies instead of focusing on the sustaining truths of my Savior. I should have listened and leaned in harder to the everlasting arms of the Lord. 

Since I got home I have been through every stage of processing. I felt justified at first, then sad, then lonely, then misunderstood, then embarrassed, then angry, then shame and afraid… Which is why it has taken me a long time to write this blog. I've tried a hundred times but I've never gotten it all out until now. 

But now, tonight, I'm not afraid to speak. I'm no longer scared to tell the truth because I am confident that my God can use me, a broken vessel, to speak, to move, to change. Even though I screwed up, and wasn't trusting, He continues to redeem. He continues to forgive. He continues to set me free.

So here I am. Step one: admitting it happened. telling my story. 
Step two: apologizing. Because I owe an apology to the people I affected in this process. To the beautiful children and adults at Humble in Mukono, To Esther, To Blair, and to Ashley and Natalee- I am so sorry for leaving. I am so sorry for cutting our relationships too soon and I am so deeply sorry for not trusting you all either. I hope each of you can forgive me also for being selfish and inconsiderate. I think of you all so often and so dearly and hope to mend those relationships further over time.
Step three: Moving forward. 

It's time. It's time to admit, apologize, and forgive myself so I can move on past the pain and regret. Because pain and regret only hinder me from fully following the Lord. And also because I want to be at a place where I look back on Africa with only fond memories. Where I look back and see only these beautiful faces who overwhelmed my heart with joy. 

Or Where i think back to spending 8 days with the most incredible young women I've ever met. Two girls who love the Lord…deeply and fully. Two ladies I am grateful just to have met, to hae laughed with, cried with, prayed with and lived with.

This journey to Africa and back showed me a lot and took me on a journey with the Lord that I could've never imagined. But the cold hard truth is, Missions are hard. Following the Lord isn't easy. and We, his followers, his people just are not perfect. So I'm tired of reading books, watching videos and listening to people who make moving across the planet to live and serve sound like flying a kite. But what I have realized is that despite it's difficulties, the Lord will sustain. He will provide.  The truth about Africa is that I missed a lot of beauty because I chose to see fear instead.

While, I will never be ready to joke about only being in Africa a short time, I do think I am finally able to talk about it. Openly, honestly, admitting my flaws in hopes that this vulnerability might somehow empower me while simultaneously bringing glory to a sustaining God.

But at the very least…I can finally start explaining Africa.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christian Free Speech

Typically, I am not one to speak out via social media in response to controversy. I stay away from this because I am an uncontroversial person and because I have no desire to fight/argue with anyone.

But as of recently, my newsfeed has been bombarded with talk of the famous Duck Dynasty Patriarch, Phil Robertson's recent interview with GQ magazine. Robertson was being interviewed about his beliefs/opinions on a variety of topics. To respond to this interview, when asked about his perspective on homosexuality he said: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." He did go on to quote Scripture and further explain his opinions in a very descriptive manner. 

But here is what I think. Yes, Phil Robertson is an American. So Yes, he absolutely one hundred percent has the right to believe what he would like and is free to speak those thoughts as he would like. So please do not think this blog is about the American right to freedom of speech. This blog is also not about what I believe or don't believe in regards to homosexuality.

Instead this blog is about  "Christian Free Speech." It is no secret that there are verses of Scripture that speak very strongly about homosexuality. This is no secret because these verses are thrown around in our society all the time. The argument between "The Christian vs. The Homosexual" has to be the most intense, most argued debate of our time right now, because truthfully it is just a hard topic to discuss in our culture currently. But what makes this topic so difficult to discuss is because both sides are coming to the argument guns blazing, ready to simply prove their point. Unfortunately, he Christian so often faces this conversation a lot like Phil Roberston did, by throwing out Scripture that is hard for anyone to grasp and make comparisons about an entire community of people. Because we so often forget when we are talking about this topic, that we are talking about people. The same kind of people we are…as in the human kind that was created by God and in the image of God. The people facing sin everyday just like all of us are

As Christians we are given the Word, a book that is Holy and precious and this Book is given for us to read, learn, teach, understand, appreciate and unravel. But here is the deal when we are using portions of Scripture alone to judge/condemn others, I think we are using it inappropriately. Sure, because we believe it is the Word of God and the truth, we could say it whenever and wherever we want to make our point or how it is most often used as "The Ultimate Trump Card." But please understand, I assure you that using the Holy Word of God as a trump card to win an argument is not the ultimate intention of what our Savior and God has created us to do.

We, as Christians are called in 1 Peter 4:8 to "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." Again in John 13: 34-35 Jesus exclaims, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this eaveryone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This is what we have been asked to do. Not just to speak. I have read so many comments and statuses during this controversy that are so concerned about Phil Robertson is right for saying these things because it is what he believes about the Christian faith and because quoting Scripture somehow entitles Him to make ultimate, massive public statements that in turn represent the entire face of Christianity.

Now here me out…I like Duck Dynasty. I think Phil Robertson seems like a nice guy and I'm sure he has good intentions. But the fact is that well intentioned speech does not make up for inappropriate, judgmental statements. 

Instead, what if Christians were to approach Freedom of Speech carefully. Yes, Christians are free to speak their minds. But I would ask just because you can say it and even if you feel supported by it, does it fall under, "Above all else, LOVE each other deeply?" This is my cry to the people that love the Lord and wish to follow and love him wholeheartedly: Speak slowly, carefully, and lovingly.

There is a time and a place for truthful rebuke/guidance to help your brother or sister that comes from love… but remember that often that time and place is not to be directed towards people you don't know and is not to be shared without love, humility, and integrity.

I think in this time of intense war between Christianity and the culture we live in, Christians might do so much better to put their main focus on loving above all else. Which for Phil Robertson might have meant saying, "I support what the Scriptures say about these issues" and then going straight to the statement he eventually made saying, "We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity." Why couldn't that have been enough? Instead, he angered and hurt so many people justifying it by using the Word as His ultimate trump card. Instead of trying to explain a human answer to such a monumentally complex question. 

Perhaps in the future we could approach a Christian Freedom of Speech with Scripture. Proverbs 15:1 states, "A soft answer turn away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Maybe we as Christians could start to remember this proverb instead of getting caught up in what we have the right to say… and focus more directly on what might be said to love above all else.

Monday, December 2, 2013

We did it…We really did it!

You may have heard, but we did it. We actually hosted our first married holiday at our home. We had almost 30 people at our house on Thanksgiving for lunch and games. I think when we originally claimed this event, we weren't quite sure what it would be like…But it surpassed all my expectations.

People from my family, Ben's family, and some of our family friends all gathered in our living room, squished into 3 long tables for a pot-luck feast, intense laughter and a time to give thanks. It was truly one of the best holiday celebrations I've ever shared. We all spent about 6 hours at my house eating, chatting, drinking, playing corn hole, and just laughing. I felt like every single person there was grateful to be there. We each spent our time being present talking to one another. We enjoyed moments of visibly loving each other.

Whether it was bonding over football and getting a moment to kick back on the couch and REST

Or chasing a cute kid around the yard…

Or sneaking into another room for a well-deserved nap…

Or just playing a whole lot of corn hole…

On this thanksgiving day, my living room, my yard, my porch, my belly, and my soul were full.
Full of more love than I could've ever imagine. I was overwhelmed by the hugs, the laughs, and the love. Be still my soul..I was overwhelmed.

So yes, I am pretty proud of Ben and myself for working our tails off for three days straight cleaning and for organizing a shindig this fun…But I am so much more grateful for those who came and brought insane amounts of food..

For loved ones that skyped us from across the country…

For the hard working women that cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom so Ben and I wouldn't have to…I mean seriously, they cleaned every single dish. Incredible.

I'd definitely say it was a success..thankful to those 28 loved ones. 
Thankful that you all filled my porch. Love ya'll.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"It's not just other places, Kelsey….It's here too."

Some of you may know I am in the process of finishing writing my Senior Thesis. Every Senior religion major at LaGrange is required to do one and we choose our topic and get it approved. This entire semester I've been reading, researching and writing about Sex Trafficking. I've specifically focused on women in the United States and even more directly in Atlanta- since it is such a prominent hub for the commercial sex industry. The religious aspect of my thesis focused on the Church's response to this issue that enslaves an estimated 27 million people worldwide- of which 80% of these people are women and girls. 

I could go on telling you story after story of the women I have read about, listened to, and watched that were forced or coerced into a lifestyle of pain that lacked any freedom. This topic has not been easy to research and even more difficult to digest it enough to write a profound, intelligent, passionate paper. At times it has been disgusting, too cruel to see, too graphic to look, and too degrading to comprehend. 

But tonight as I sit here putting the final touches on my paper, I was reading a few testimonials of women who survived this industry in Atlanta. I was overcome and really felt like the Lord began to speak to me. I have a heart to serve in whatever capacity the Lord desires, but I have felt over the past few years that He is definitely calling me to minister in Columbus. I love this town and this place I call home is a community I am drawn to love. So my raw, innocent, gullible concerns sounded like this in my head: "I wonder if it's happening in Columbus on a large scale? Surely, not. It can't be happening here…I live here. I've never seen it.

But all I heard the Lord telling me "It's not just other places Kelsey…It's here too. I want you to do something here." I'm just an optimistically naive person. Like most people I don't like to think the bad stuff is where I am. So I just googled "sex trafficking in Columbus, Georgia." I wanted to know. Hoping there wouldn't be hardly any related searches…Crossing my fingers to see Google's "I'm sorry..We've got nothin'!" message.

Unfortunately, that is not what I found. The first article was a new's report about a ring of prostitutes arrested. The second was literally an entire webpage of listings for women and girls. I scrolled down through hundreds and hundreds of names advertising their "services" and location… IN COLUMBUS!  I can barely type these words as I push through tears of deep sorrow. I was so overcome in these moments, while scrolling down. I just cried while I read, "Candy…Bela…Jessica." And even worse reading the majority that were left nameless… as if being degrading to this form of work wasn't bad enough. They leave them nameless. 

I felt compelled after seeing this and writing my thesis and reading everything I have to write this blog. I just want the people in my beautiful hometown to know…It's not just happening in Asia…In Africa…in Europe.. In California.. In New York…or even just Atlanta. It's happening here, In Columbus. So we have to be aware. We have to learn and understand how this process starts and how men, women and children are tricked into this modern day slavery. Our awareness leads us to noticing our surroundings. If you see something suspicious or see signs of victims of sexual exploitation, be aware of how you can respond.

One of the best responsive options I have come across is an initiative from Polaris Project- a toll free, 24-7 hotline. They standby every second, minute, and hour of every day- READY. They are ready to help people find freedom, provide support, and connect victims to resources in their area. 
Call 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

I know it's overwhelming to think about this issue and much less to try and comprehend how to respond and help… But we have to think. We have to hurt. We have to pray. We have to love. And we have to want to find freedom for each and everyone that has been robbed by the sex industry of their dignity, their freedom, their identity…. and their name

We have to try…because it's here too.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Few Fun Facts

There is this game of sorts floating around Facebook, where someone gives you a number and you post that amount of facts that people don't know about you as your status. I did this for fun the other day with 8 facts…but I decided there was a fun blog underneath there somewhere.

I think understanding who you are and investigating the life you lead is important and I think it's powerful and fun to be able to proudly speak about who you are. So, I don't want this to be a narcissistic blog going on and on about myself, but more of an opportunity to share my story with my sweet readers who take their time to read my ramblings in the first place.

So I present to you: A Few Fun Facts about me that maybe will help you get to know who I really am.

 I love a good joke. So, I have no problem poking fun at others or myself… as I will prove in this blog.

I have completely irrational fears. It really is a problem. I'm a little pessimistic..always considering what could go wrong. When Ben and I went snorkeling-I just knew I would be the one person on the trip to get bit by the poisonous, rare fish and die…or inhale a ton of water in my mask and drown.. That kind of thing. I don't like small spaces, things that are too hot to touch. I'm always petrified walking down stairs.. whether there are three or 50, I'm confident it will be the end of me.

I am really a child stuck in a big girl body. You know how growing up you want to be something new everyday…Monday, a doctor, tuesday, an astronaut, wednesday, a bus driver, and so on.. Well, I'm 21 and I'm still there. Teacher..Nurse..Therapist..Barista…School Counselor..Small Business Owner. For whatever reason, I just haven't figured it out yet. But I really am in a place where I think that is okay. I feel so confident that God has a plan for me and that He will guide me wherever I'm supposed to go..Maybe it's all of those things or none of those things. We shall see.

I am a deeply relational person. Ben always jokes about how much I crave being around others. I have always been this way.  I like having a lot of different friends in different places and enjoy the challenges that come with sustaining those relationships. I mean I had 12 bridesmaids for cryin' out loud. Point Proven.

I promise I'm one of the most sympathetic people you will meet. I feel bad for killing bugs (except roaches..ew. they don't count.) I think it's a good thing because it challenges me to often put myself in other's shoes…but it can also be a little much sometimes. I'm working on that. :)

My biggest pet peeve on the planet…Get ready.. You ready? When people beat around the bush. I can't stand the politics of being careful to speak the truth around certain people because it may upset others. I need people to just be honest with me…and bluntly honest at that. JUST TELL ME what you are trying to say….. please? :)

I wouldn't consider myself intensely adventurous, since I'm scared of planes, horses, roller coasters…Basically anything bigger than me that goes way too fast. But I am a sucker for a couple kinds of adventure. Really, I like any kind of water adventure. (minus the fears that came from the forementioned snorkeling trip) But if it white water rafting, tubing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, banana boat rides SIGN ME UP! :)

But I would definitely consider myself intensely competitive. I've always been competitive in sports..not only do I not like losing to the other team, but I am usually never satisfied if I don't improve individually either. This competitive spirit translates over into board games, corn hole, and your typical game of tag… but I mean I will honestly turn anything into a competition. (I'm going to thank my Dad for this gene. ;) We both have quite the competitive spirit.) I will wash that dish, file that paper, drive to the store, and find that key better, bigger, AND faster. I can't help it…It's in my blood. 

This might be one some people know…but family is the most important part of my life. I'm thankful to Bill + Jennie McRae instilling this ideal into me daily, but also immensely grateful for my 4 McRae aunts and beautiful Mama who continued illuminating this legacy of love. I'm not generally a defensive or aggressive person..But the one thing that gets me all riled up is protecting my precious family. (Hint Hint: Don't mess with them)

My last fact is the cry of my heart. I really try everyday to find the best way to represent the love and hope that I have found in the Lord. I struggle a lot with finding the right times to speak and the right words to say… But I want everyone to know that I have found a love, a peace, and a soul-satisfying joy from seeking God that I could never possibly explain…and I want so desperately for everyone I know and love to share in this hope as well. 

Thank you all for reading..It just humbles me so. :)